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It’s A Little Early In Their Lives For That Lesson

, , , , , , , | Romantic | September 11, 2021

I’m an elementary school teacher. During the quarantine, I was moved to teaching online from my home and struggled to keep coming up with engaging lessons for my remote learners.

One day, I decided to incorporate our two cats into my lesson for humorous effect. The cats were not cooperative, of course, but after numerous takes, I finally managed to film the lesson to my satisfaction. I showed the video to my wife.

Me: “Well, it took forever and my legs are scratched to h***, but I really think my kids will get a kick out of this.”

Wife: “You realize your big poster for [Marijuana-Themed Movie] is in the background of every shot?”

Me: …”

Me: “Okay, [Cat #1] and [Cat #2], time for a reshoot!”

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Enough To Make You MADD

, , , , | Learning | September 10, 2021

While in college, every Saturday, I volunteered for a program working with special needs kids that could also double as a one-credit class, though I was just there for the kids, not the credit. We would get thirty minutes of “class,” teaching us stuff about working with special needs kids. Then, the kids would arrive, and we were each paired up with one child for two hours of play and lessons.

One day, while I waited for the class to start up, I was speaking with one of the other volunteers about my first experiences volunteering with special needs kids.

Me: “Since I was new to it all, they paired me up with the easiest child they had to watch, a kid with ADHD who wasn’t even all that hyperactive. But I’m ADD myself, so I couldn’t help but feel they had a ‘blind leading the blind’ situation going on, you know?”

Volunteer: “Wait, you’re ADD?”

Me: “Yeah, technically ADHD/inattentive variant, but it’s easier to just say ADD.”

Volunteer: “Wow. I wouldn’t have guessed you were ADD. You don’t seem desperate to get attention at all!”

Me: “Umm, I really don’t think you understand what ADHD is.”

I explained what ADHD was to him, but his comments made it clear that he honestly thought that the hyperactivity of ADHD was nothing more than attention-seeking from someone clinically diagnosed as so desperate for attention that they needed to act out to get it.  

I was sorely tempted to suggest he may want to consider repeating the class we were in next year, since he could use some more remedial training in special needs.

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This Teacher’s About To Perform A Student-ectomy

, , , , , | Learning | September 8, 2021

I’m sitting in class, trying to do my assigned work, but I’m really, really tired because I could barely sleep last night. At one point, I let out a huge yawn and my teacher catches me. I am too tired to cover my mouth, and apparently, she doesn’t like that.

Teacher: “[My Name], cover your mouth! I could see all the way to your tonsils!”

Me: “That’s impossible, ma’am.”

Teacher: “No, that’s how far you opened your mouth. I could see them clearly!”

Me: “Well, ma’am, then something very strange happened, because my tonsils were removed when I was a year old.”

Yeah, I know, bit rude, but I was so tired that my brain-to-mouth filter apparently stopped working. The rest of the class got a laugh out of it, though.

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Making Learning Even Harder

, , , , , | Learning | August 26, 2021

When I started student teaching, I had this site supervisor from the district who would frequently come in to observe and give feedback to student teachers from the school. She had a philosophy that if she told someone that they were doing a good job when they were not, it was not helpful. I completely agree that giving constructive feedback is crucial, but the supervisor took it to the extreme. Here are a few examples.

My students were doing a round-robin share among their tables.

Supervisor: “[My Name], you need to walk around with a purpose and ask these students questions during their share time. Engage with them; you are not doing it enough.”

During the next share time, I asked a table some questions to guide the conversation.

Supervisor: “Now you’re engaging with them too much.”

Another time, I was pulling a small group and needed the students to listen quietly to me for a minute so I could give directions. I told the students, “Shhh,” but I did not do so in a harsh tone at all, and that was a way my mentor teacher frequently got the students quiet.

After the group, my supervisor approached.

Supervisor: “You can’t say, ‘Shhh,’ to students. That’s very rude.”

And my absolute favorite incident happened during an individual meeting with the supervisor over lunch.

Supervisor: “You have to get over your anxiety and be more confident. Why aren’t you being more confident?”

Me: “I feel like I’m not doing a good job.”

Supervisor: “I’ll be honest; you’re not.”

She gave no explanation as to why she said what she did. No “You’re learning, so there is room to improve” or anything like that. I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, as I was furious at this point. However, she was yelling at me for my anxiety disorder and for struggling in the classroom.

In the end, among other reasons, I decided to withdraw from student teaching for that year. I completed it at a different district the following year, where the people giving me feedback were more constructive and weren’t constantly yelling at me. I ended up doing extremely well and received excellent recommendations from my university supervisor and mentor teacher.

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You Can’t Cheat Science!

, , , , , , , , , | Learning | August 24, 2021

When I was in grad school, one of my colleagues in my lab worked as a teaching assistant for a certain undergraduate class. Students in this class were notorious for cheating, and one of the ways they cheated was to collect their graded exams, change one of the answers, and submit it for a re-grade, claiming that that the teaching assistant had neglected to give them full credit for the answer.

My colleague was lamenting to some of us at lunch about how her student submitted a question for a re-grade, but she knew there was no way she had misgraded his answer to begin with.

Colleague: “I know he erased his answer and changed it. I mean, I graded fifty exams, so I don’t remember for sure, but there’s no way I wouldn’t have given that answer full credit. He has to be cheating!”

Me: “But you can’t prove it.”

Colleague: “No, and that’s what’s so frustrating.”

Me: “Can I see the paper?”

She showed me the paper. Right away, I noticed that there was a spot where the student’s pencil mark intersected with the teaching assistant’s red grading pen.

Colleague: “See? I can’t prove whether he wrote his answer before or after I graded the paper.”

Me: “We have microscopes.”

My colleague’s face lit up. She took the paper to one of our fancy lab microscopes, and even at ten times magnification, she could see the student’s pencil mark clearly ON TOP of her red pen. She took a picture using the microscope and submitted it to the professor, and the student eventually admitted to cheating. Science for the win.


This story is part of our Best Of August 2021 roundup!

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