A Use Of Alarming Language

, , , , , , | Learning | March 1, 2019

(I have taught English for a few years in China. One of my classes is late at night and I have mostly young, working professionals in my class. Because the class is late, and we have all had full, busy days, this class can be quiet, and most are very tired.)

Me: “Okay, I’d like to go over the new vocabulary for this week. Are there any words that you need help understanding?”

Student #1: “I don’t understand ‘alarm.’ What does this mean?”

Me: “Oh! Great question! Does everyone remember antonyms? These are words that have opposite meanings.”

Student #2: “This is like cold and hot. They are opposite.”

Me: “Exactly. So, we all know what calm means, right?”

(The students all nod. I continue to explain calm, peace, and tranquility, and make my voice softer as I explain. Eyelids start drooping, and heads began to tilt while I continue.)

Me: “So, I want you to remember what this feels like, because you will all feel alarmed very soon.”

(I walk over to my metal desk and slam my hand on the top, making a large bang. All students are immediately wide-eyed and alert, hearts pounding.)

Me: “That feeling? What you feel right now? That is alarm.”

Students: *laughing nervously* “Oh, okay. I will never forget that!”

Me: “Excellent! What are other words that are similar to alarm?”

(At the end of the year, all of the students from that class told me that I had made English fun and more memorable than any previous teachers. They loved how they had gotten real practice and understanding of the new vocabulary rather than memorizing lists. Several also received promotions due to their improved English opening up new job opportunities for them!)

A Not-So-Sweet Resolution

, , , , , , | Learning | February 28, 2019

When I was in elementary school, there was a fourth grade teacher who was a little… crazy. One of the many insane things she would do was walk around the lunchroom chanting the phrase, “Don’t eat your dessert first,” over and over again. The teacher would always bring her class to lunch around 15 minutes late; we only had 25 minutes so by this time many kids were almost finished with their food.

I was sitting at my table and had already finished my sandwich and carrots. The teacher walked in with her class, grabbed her lunch, and walked past my table. I was opening my [fruity rolled snack] when she leaned over my shoulder and screamed, “DON’T EAT YOUR DESSERT FIRST!” She then grabbed the treat out of my hand and walked away. I have very bad anxiety and am on the autism spectrum. This startled me so much I almost started to cry. She took food from a five-year-old! Who does that?

Later that day I went home and told my mom what had happened, but she did not believe me. My older sister had had that teacher five years earlier and had had no problems with her, so obviously I must have been lying or exaggerating.

I still remember fifteen years later how scared I was when this grown woman screamed at me for enjoying my sweet treat after my lunch and stole it from me. I doubt she even thought I wasn’t finished with my meal; nearly everyone else, besides her class, had finished, as well. Later, when I had her for fourth grade, I found out that she would constantly take sweets from children and eat them if she suspected they were eating them before their other food.

Shoot-From-The-Hip Teaching

, , , , | Learning | February 27, 2019

(My professor was born and raised in California, and decided to move to Texas for more experience. The university is in a small town full of hunters, farmers, and ranchers, so people know how to shoot a gun. Since he teaches Federal Government, we are on the topic of the Amendments, more into the Second Amendment.)

Professor: “I’m glad I live in Texas now. It’s because you guys are into the Second Amendment, so I know you all have a concealed firearm. So, if something happens, I’ll have free bodyguards and all I have to do is duck.”

Professor Umbridge Teaches English

, , , , , | Learning | February 27, 2019

(Somewhere around fifth grade, a new English teacher, who I hear used to be an elementary teacher, starts at my K-12 school. I get in her class, excited to finally move on from grammar English to literature/essay writing and the like. On the first day, all she does is:)

Teacher: “Do you know nouns?”

(She talks about them for the rest of class, although everyone in class has assured her, multiple times, that we know our basic grammar. This continues for about two months. Finally, she decides to bring an ACTUAL BOOK to class, with the type of stories found in standardized testing. She doesn’t hand out books or copies or anything:)

Teacher: “You don’t need them for yourselves; just listen as I read.”

(If we ask her to reread anything, she refuses and says we should have been listening the first time. Worst of all, she constantly trails off from the story to tell us about how this reminds her of her childhood in the 60s or 70s or something. She takes time when we are supposed to be learning reading comprehension and writing to tell us her life stories about growing up in Minnesota/Idaho/Nebraska somewhere — it seems to change every time. After this, she gives us a one-page test to take home, mostly defining vocabulary from the story, and maybe one question about summarizing. No homework or assignments or anything. RIP any hopes of actually studying literature. This goes on for two more years. Fast forward to this year; we get a new assigned curriculum from the administrator, who happens to be teaching third-grade English due to budget cuts. Although we actually have our own books with grade-level literature, the teacher insists on reading it herself, continues to go on rants about her own life, and ignores the papers and assignments specified in the book in favor of her very own grammar worksheets, of course. Someone must smarten up and complain, because after two weeks, the administrator decides to sit in on a class. She catches so many mistakes she actually has to stop and basically co-teach the class to make sure things are done right. Then, this happens:)

Admin: “Today, you’ll be doing a group reading of the story [Short Story]. Because there are so few of you, we only need one group. Each of you will have a role in the group.” *gives out roles* “Now you guys can start.”

Classmate: *reads a long word*

Teacher: “Ah, yes, [long word]. That means [definition].” *administrator tries to interject, but she ignores* “So, it looks like he’s doing something I used to do, which is—“

Admin: *louder* “[Teacher]! This is a group study. We want then to problem solve on their own. If they need look up a word, they can decide to use a dictionary or context clues. We will not be commenting on the story unless something gets out of hand. Now, continue, [Classmate].”

(This happens a few more times before [Teacher] seems to get the idea. However, the minute the admin goes to the bathroom…)

Me: “So, the book says to circle any that show emotion.” *my role is to ask all the questions and write everyone’s answers* “We have to give at least ten. I have about three. Do you guys—“

Teacher: *takes book from classmate and rattles off a list of words* “You write that down. Now, I will continue. So—“

Admin: *rushing back* “[Teacher]! Like I said, this is a group reading. You can’t comment on it.”

Teacher: *pointing to me* “She had a question! They needed help!”

(I did not ask her anything, but I am shy and afraid of making things worse, so I say nothing.)

Admin: *to me* “If you have a question, try asking the group or using a resource. We want you to practice—“

Teacher: “Actually, I don’t know how I feel about this new system. I’d prefer to go back to my way.”

Admin: “This is the state-approved curriculum, and students need group and independent skills.”

Teacher: “I’m a teacher; I’m being paid to teach!

(They argued for a bit more, but the admin made it VERY clear that she was in charge of what happens. The teacher retreated and sulked in the back of the classroom. But the next day, a Friday, the admin was not present, and the teacher once again tried to revert to “her way.” When we returned on Monday, the admin had officially taken over the class, and we have continued with her ever since. As for the teacher, according to my younger sister in the third grade, she is teaching third grade English, instead. I hope she’s better back in her element with the elementary kids. I still don’t know why I didn’t complain sooner!)

Not Overdoing The Oversleeping Excuse

, , , , , , | Learning | February 25, 2019

(This story was relayed to me by my boyfriend. He missed a test and has gone to his professor to ask if he can make it up, though he knows this professor is very strict.)

Professor: “Uh-huh… and why did you miss this test?”

Boyfriend: “I overslept.”

Professor: “Sure, you… Wait. What?”

Boyfriend: “Yeah, I overslept and missed it.”

Professor: “I… you… You know what? Sure.”

Boyfriend: “Really?”

Professor: “Yeah. You know why? Because you told the truth. You didn’t make up some story; you accepted guilt for missing the test. I have so many students come up here and give me wild stories for why they were absent, but no one, no one ever ‘just overslept.’ So, you get a make up, just this once.”

(At this he turns to the rest of the class.)


(My boyfriend did really well on the makeup test!)

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