So Much For No Child Left Behind, Part 3

, , , , , , | Learning | September 14, 2020

I am the author of So Much For No Child Left Behind. If you’ve read that, you know my dad had some behavior issues. However, this story makes me laugh because it really sets the tone for my life in general.

At thirty, I begin teaching at the high school my dad graduated from. I did some student teaching here, so I’m not unfamiliar with it. It’s worth noting that in Virginia, county and city schools are often separate, and I went to the county schools and my dad graduated from the city. It’s also very important to note that my family is not originally from here so my accent is somewhat confusing and instantly recognizable in my area.

I have been in my classroom for one year at this point, and I am rather happy with it. I had to do a lot of work to get it clean and in shape. The teacher that occupied the class before me left a mess, and the teacher who had the room before him was here for thirty years. I don’t think he threw away anything, and neither did she. There were books that had been in the closet since the seventies. I threw them away because, well, frankly, they were icky. I did notice that across the spines it looked like someone had slashed the word, “B****.” I may add that this was a glass front closet and it was just left there.

This will be important later.

Teachers have to help monitor and proctor standardized testing. I am helping an older woman I do not recognize and am later told was a teacher here and only became an administrator in her last few years to help out. It turns out she retired and was asked to help out this semester as we need a few extra people due to heavy cold and flu incidents.

After the testing, she’s getting me to sign forms necessary and she asks me where my room is. It turns out that her old room is my room! I’m so excited. I ask her if she wants to see what I’ve done and she declines, saying if she has to look at those books with “B****” on them she may scream.

Here is where I make my mistake. I say, “Oh, no, I tossed those out. They were old anyway.”

She narrows her eyes and says, “You threw out my books?!”

I am in WTF mode now. She retired! But I ask about it. She gives me this withering look. She tells me that she had a student she hated. He was loud, rude, and he somehow knew answers even when not really paying attention. She told me he once passed a test and she was sure he cheated because he skipped class several times. When she confronted him, he told her he knew his geography. She gave him some sort of detention, and in revenge, he slashed that on her books and waited.

She tells me that she called the principal the next day because he was the only one there. The principal confronted the student and told him he would have detention for a month. The student got mad, stormed out, and screamed, “I quit!” Incidentally, this was May, and they graduated in June.

She glares at me and says, “I would look at those books every day and remember that not all students are smart, and not all students are dumb, but some smart students make very dumb decisions.”

As an experienced teacher, I know you seldom forget names. So, I ask who this stunning pupil was.

She looks at me and says, “[My Dad].”

My jaw nearly drops to my toes. I tell her, “That was my father. He died eight years ago.”

Her eyes widen like she’s caught me in a lie. “I knew you had that same snotty Norfolk accent! His kid turned out well enough to be a teacher?!”

So, to sum it up, I ended up in the classroom where my dad quit school and I threw away the evidence that the teacher kept because she loathed my dad. By the end of the week, all of the teachers in the building and some of his former classmates who worked there knew about it. Then, the students found out about it.

It became a running joke to ask me who else I was destroying evidence for. It also made me super popular with the alumni, because they all liked my dad and said he was totally justified. The staff that knew the teacher always wanted to thank him for making her miserable when they could not.

So, thanks, Dad!

Also, he did go back and finish high school.

So Much For No Child Left Behind, Part 2
So Much For No Child Left Behind

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Absolutely Despicable, Horrendous, And Dreadful

, , , , | Learning | September 1, 2020

I am in the fourth grade. It is the middle of the first month of school, and while most kids have shiny new pencil cases and things, my family is going through a rough patch and has been barely able to afford school fees for the four of us that go to school. So, I have my sister’s old sneakers and one pencil to last me for the month. I guard it fiercely.

For the fourth and fifth grade, I have a teacher who HATES me, mostly because I have ADHD and need to leave class twice a day to go get my medication and take it at the water fountain. It takes less than a minute and I usually remember on my own.

I slept in this morning and forgot my pencil case — with my pencil and sharpener inside — on my desk. So, I lean over and ask my friend for a pencil for the day.

My teacher turns around so fast she might have tapped into the speed force.

Teacher: “Stop disrupting the class.”

Me: “But I—”

Teacher: “You’re still doing it.”

Me: “I need a pencil. I forgot mine.” 

Teacher: “You should have thought of that earlier.”

She turns back to the projector. My friend quietly rolls a pencil across our shared table to me. 

After the lesson, the teacher turns back. She demands as I scribble in my last notes:

Teacher: “Where did you get that?”

Me: “My fr—”

Teacher: “I told you to stop disrupting other students with your disorganization. Give it back.”

Friend: “It’s fine, ma’am.”

Teacher: “No, she’s lazy and ungrateful. She needs to learn. Give it back.”

Me: *Standing up* “But I need my notes.”

Teacher: *Towering over me* “Don’t care. You should have pencils at home for homework so this doesn’t happen.”

Of course, this makes my ADHD just dig its tiny heels in. I am in the right. I’m not doing anything wrong.

Me: “We can’t afford that many and there are four kids in our house that need them. “

Teacher: “Oh, they can’t afford pencils but they can afford your medicine for your made-up disease?”

Me: *Shouting* “It’s not made-up! The doctor says it’s just not common in girls!”

I stamp my foot, tears starting to run down my face.

Teacher: “It’s not. Your family is just poor and trash, and your doctor is just making excuses for your messy habits and terrible grades.”

I am furious and embarrassed and crying up a storm.

Me: *Shouting* “You’re a dumb face!”

I leave the class, attempting to slam the door behind me. I then walk to the office, still sobbing my little heart out. When I get there, my principal is waiting. 

The principal is one of the few people who knows that my dad has been fired for being very sick and that my parents are very close to a divorce. So, she invites me in and listens to me blubber out what happened. She then calls my dad, who is at the school faster than you could eat a candy bar.

I have never seen my father so angry in his life than when I burst into tears when he enters the office and my principal explains what happened. It isn’t his usual volcano; it is quieter, like a freezing knife. 

Father: “Go get your coat. Your sister can get your homework.”

Me: “It’s recess; there’s no one in class.”

Principal: “I’ll help you get it.”

The three of us go to my class. My teacher is there and she goes as white as a sheet when she sees my dad.

I have no idea what he said to her while I got my coat and bag but she never outright looked me in the eye again.

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Giving The Misogynists A Good Dressing-Down

, , , , , , | Learning | August 27, 2020

I teach at an international school for adult students learning English as a second language. Obviously, navigating cultural differences between students is an inherent part of the job. 

For the second year in a row that I’ve been at this school, at a staff meeting, an older male teacher has brought up the fact that many of the female students are wearing “revealing” clothing. It’s summer, so we’re talking things like tank tops and shorts — nothing that would get you arrested. Nevertheless, he’s previously suggested that we should have a dress code.

Male Teacher: “I mean, shouldn’t we do something about this?”

Our headteacher is also a middle-aged man.

Head Teacher: *Pause* “Does something need to be done?”

Male Teacher: “Well, I mean, in particular, it attracts a lot of attention from some of the boys, especially the ones from more conservative countries where women don’t dress like that. They’re distracted and they, you know, talk and make comments.”

One of the new teachers, who’s younger and a woman, pipes up. 

Female Teacher: “You’re absolutely right, [Male Teacher]. We should do something. Thanks for bringing that up.”

Everyone looks up in surprise, since the female teacher is known for her outspoken feminism. She continues.

Female Teacher: “I’m so glad you agree that someone should talk about appropriate conduct to these young people. They need to be reminded that, in a multicultural environment, they have to be aware of differences between what is considered respectful and acceptable to their peers, and that there is no excuse for making other people uncomfortable.”

A few teachers, I included, catch on and start smiling.

Female Teacher: “To that end, [Male Teacher], I’m glad you’ve volunteered to talk to the counselors and ask that the students be reminded that ogling and commenting on their classmates in a sexual way is flatly disgusting behavior that will not be tolerated. It doesn’t matter if that’s an okay way to talk in their country; it isn’t here. This is a learning environment and our students should feel safe, not judged and objectified. 

Head Teacher: “Very well said! Thank you, [Female Teacher]; you’re absolutely right.”

Female Teacher: “And thank you, [Male Teacher], for being so sensitive to this problem. So many people would ignore it, or even try to blame it on the young women in this situation.”

She smiled at him like the purest, most innocent angel; he nodded like he was in pain, and never brought up the idea of having a dress code ever again.

This story is part of our Best Of August 2020 roundup!

Read the next Best Of August 2020 story!

Read the Best Of August 2020 roundup!

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Zero Out Of Ten On Grading

, , , , , | Learning | August 23, 2020

This happens when I am in high school. It is the middle of the quarter and our Spanish teacher is discussing our grades.

Teacher: “I calculated your mid-quarter grades and I was very disappointed. You’re all doing very poorly.”

The teacher then proceeds to pass out copies of our grades, broken down by assignment, and I notice something odd.

Me: “It says I got a 9% on this assignment. How is that possible?”

Teacher: “Maybe you didn’t do it.”

Me: “But then wouldn’t I have gotten a zero? I mean, I’d have to try to get a 9% to do so poorly.”

Teacher: “See if you can find it and we’ll figure it out.”

While I look for the copy, another student speaks up.

Classmate #1: “[Teacher], it says I got a 10% on that assignment.”

Classmate #2: “Me, too.”

In the meantime, I find my copy of the assignment and figure out the issue.

Me: “I got a nine out of ten on this assignment. This shows it was graded out of a hundred, but it still says I got a nine.”

To her credit, the teacher fixed the error and all our grades improved significantly after that.

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Class Clown On His Way To Steal Your Girl

, , , , , , , , | Learning | August 15, 2020

I take driver’s ed at a local high school with other teenagers. One is committed to being the class clown, and we all think he is doing pretty well at it. For example, after our teacher stresses that a green traffic light means go WHEN CLEAR, he asks what red means. The class clown calls out, “Stop when clear!”

One day, the classroom phone rings. The class clown is sitting closest and offers to answer it. The teacher obliges.

Class Clown: “Hello, [Teacher]’s room; this is [Class Clown]… Yes, that’s me. Oh, [Teacher] has mentioned me?”

Teacher: “Who is it?”

Class Clown: “Your wife.”

He continues the conversation with the teacher’s wife. The teacher walks over to the phone.

Teacher: “Here, let me have the phone.”

Class Clown: “She said she wants to talk to me.”

The teacher rolls his eyes and grabs the phone.

Teacher: “Right. Hi, honey, I— What? Um, okay.”

He then hands the phone back to the class clown.

Teacher: “She wanted to let me know what she was making for dinner tonight… and now she wants to talk to you again.”

The class clown and the teacher’s wife ended up talking another five or ten minutes. From the side of the conversation we could hear, it sounded like a pleasant one!

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