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Getting Told By The Teacher

, , , , , , , , , | Learning | December 30, 2022

Growing up, I was always bullied at school, but it got especially bad when I started dating when I was fifteen. In less than a week, all kinds of rumours started circulating claiming we had been “caught” doing all kinds of inappropriate things all around the school, even though we didn’t even hold hands at school.

Science class was one of the few places I was safe. The teacher was the best I’d ever had. Not only did he make each lesson engaging and interesting and talk to the students rather than down to them, but he also had zero tolerance for bullying. However, he had a unique way of dealing with bullies.

One day, in science class, I was focusing on my work while in the background I could hear the usual bullies whispering about me and laughing. I ignored them. While the teacher was writing on the board, one of them sidled up to me.

Bully: “Hey, [My Name], is it true you’re going out with [Boyfriend]?”

I nodded uncertainly. This made the bully and his other friends start laughing. The bully suddenly gave a really creepy grin and he leaned in toward me.

Bully: “So… have you given him a blow job yet?”

His group of friends laughed louder. Everyone in the class started staring at me. I wanted nothing more than to be out of this conversation.

Teacher: “Um, [Bully], I think you’ll find that’s none of your business.”

The bully suddenly turned, unaware the teacher was right behind him.

Teacher: “That’s an extremely inappropriate question, and I don’t want to hear you say anything like that again.”

The bully rolled his eyes, turned back to his friends, and opened his mouth to make a comment. Before he could, the teacher grinned suddenly.

Teacher: “Besides, [Bully], if you’re looking for tips on how to give head, there are far better, more appropriate ways than asking your classmates. Try looking on the Internet instead — just not during class, okay?”

The bully’s friends suddenly burst out laughing and the bully shut his mouth, went red, and moved away from me. The teacher then carried on with the lesson as if nothing had happened. At the end of the lesson, I was the last one out, and the teacher asked me to stay behind. He told me that if anything like that happened again to come and speak to him and he would help me raise a sexual harassment complaint because things like that were not okay. Luckily, after his help, I never needed to, but it was nice to know I had help if I needed it.

ADHD, You Won’t Defeat Me!

, , , , , , , , | Learning | December 27, 2022

I have ADHD-inattentive variant, which use to be known as just ADD since it doesn’t include hyperactivity. My ADD doesn’t seem to be as severe as some I’ve spoken to, but it is bad enough that I still struggle with it at times. Unfortunately, my father almost certainly has ADHD himself, though he refuses to get an official diagnosis despite being certain he has it. My dad always seems convinced that since we both have ADD, that means I am doomed to face all the exact same struggles and failures he has.

However, ADD or not, we aren’t the same. I admit my homework track record was pretty terrible as a kid; between the ADD and the fact that the homework often felt like pointless busy work to demonstrate knowledge of a subject I’d already mastered, I regularly struggled to find the motivation to complete it. This alone often led to me settling for Bs — or very rarely even a C — when I should have gotten an A, due to incomplete homework dragging my grades down.

My father was constantly frustrated with the fact that I repeatedly got in trouble for trying to sneak time to read whatever personal fiction book I’d brought that day in the middle of a lesson if I felt the teacher was repeating a lesson I’d long since already mastered. But for all my faults, I honestly loved — and deeply valued the opportunity — to learn. I always, ALWAYS made sure I had learned the lesson being taught to me and usually aced my tests as a result.

By contrast, my father had told me about how he was the first in his family to graduate college at all and how he thought all he needed to do was to get barely-passing grades that would get him that diploma. He didn’t try hard enough to learn the material or excel in class at the time and only later learned that a barely-passing college diploma was not as useful as he had hoped. He always feared I’d make the same mistakes as him, never realizing that I was too driven to learn to ever write off my education as he did. He was always desperate to keep me from making his mistakes when that was never a real risk; I was happily making a whole new set of mistakes all my own, instead!

In my second year of high school, I went with my father to the “meet your teachers” event before the school year started. After the usual teacher introduction, my father dragged me up to speak to my future chemistry teacher.

He then proceeded to introduce me by explaining:

Father: “[My Name] doesn’t focus on class or do their homework. If you catch them not trying to learn, you should let me know.”

I was frankly both embarrassed and deeply offended by this. For starters, I did pay attention in class; despite my struggles with my ADD, I was never going to miss my chance to learn one of my favorite subjects. My father casually dismissing all the effort I put in to master my lessons, when my intellect and my actually learning and retaining what was taught to me was a major source of pride for me, left me feeling insulted and somehow diminished. There was, of course, the other issue: my father had just ensured that I had the worst possible first impression with a new teacher.

Back then, one of the “tricks” I used to help me stay focused in class was to try to find a question to ask whenever I felt my mind drifting, as both the act of thinking through the material enough to come up with an insightful question and the act of asking it and getting more engagement with a teacher tended to help me redirect my attention to where it should be. The only problem was that for the first few months, my chemistry teacher made it clear that he thought my questions were an attempt to stump him to show off. Every time this happened, I remembered my father’s casual dismissal of my learning and worried that my new teacher was expecting the worst in me.

I’d also find out that this teacher was notorious for his homework. He gave far more extensive work than any other teacher, save one (who I’d get next year). Of course, these two teachers also had students acing AP exams for college credit with so much consistency that the school district had actually sent someone to find out what their tricks were, so at least the hard work wasn’t pointless. Still, given how much I struggled to complete even relatively simple homework, such a massive course load didn’t bode well for me.

Except for one thing: after my teacher got to know me enough to realize I wasn’t just trying to stump him and was actually interested in learning, I came to realize that he really cared for his students. This teacher had a passion to teach and clearly wanted what was best for his students. I found myself, oddly enough, wanting to complete my homework, not for myself but instead for him; he just seemed to care enough that I didn’t want to disappoint him or be the cause of his next ulcer.

My homework track record still wasn’t perfect, but given how terrible it had been before and just how much this teacher overwhelmed us with work, it still represented a marked improvement over what I’d managed in the past. But what I remember most about his class was a moment near the end of the year when it was time for us to pick our courses for the subsequent year. He pulled me aside to talk.

Teacher: “I know you’re still working on getting all your homework done, but I really feel like you’ve learned a lot this year, and you’re doing your best. I’d love to have you join us in my AP chemistry course next year if you’re interested. It will be a lot of work, but I think you can definitely handle it.”

I hadn’t even considered AP courses so early in my high school career, but I knew this teacher wasn’t one to give out unearned praise, and him actually saying he thought I could handle the work really was a bit touching to me, so I couldn’t help but take him up on it.

Of course, the next semester, I found out that my physics teacher had a lot of similarities with my chemistry teacher, especially in the load of homework he assigned. Trying to handle both science teachers’ homework loads at once was a true challenge for me at the time. However, I managed to get the top scores — and full college credit — in my chemistry AP exam, and I did the same for the AP physics course the subsequent year.

To this day, I still think back with fond memories of the two science teachers that pushed me to do better than I had been.

Who Stands Between A Parent And Their Children?!

, , , , , , | Learning | December 24, 2022

Our daughters are two years apart. When [Older Daughter] was in kindergarten, she and her classmates took part in the school’s annual Christmas pageant. At the start of the pageant, one of the teachers announced:

Teacher #1: “Now, parents, don’t just watch your child’s performance and then leave. Stay until the end of the show.”

That was fair; a mass of people getting up at the end of each act would be disruptive. The trouble was that our younger daughter (who was only around three) got restless and fussy at the end of her sister’s turn on stage, and we knew that we couldn’t stay. So, we bundled her up and headed over to [Older Daughter]’s classroom, where she and her classmates were blowing off a little steam.

Her teacher physically blocked the doorway and hissed:

Teacher #2: “Oh, no, you don’t. Go back and watch the rest of the show. [Older Daughter] is happy here.”

Me: *In disbelief* “That’s all fine and dandy, but her sister is tired and needs to go home.”

She refused to budge.

Teacher #2: “Then have your husband take her.”

Me:Excuse me? We’re taking both of our daughters home, now. Move.”

She very begrudgingly moved.

Season of peace and goodwill, my a**.

Speling Tests Are A Speshal Kind Of Hecc

, , , , , , | Learning | December 22, 2022

Back in the past millennium, when dinosaurs roamed the face of the earth and I was still a little kid in elementary school, it was Friday and all of us kids were preparing for our weekly spelling test. I usually did well at these, if for no other reason than that my father would make sure to pound the words into my head through excessive repetition, but this week, I hadn’t gotten the normal practice with them.

We were allowed to look at our spelling lists immediately before the test, so I would always find whatever word I was least confident in remembering and read it off, repeating the letters in my head. Then, when test time came, I’d put away my spelling list, pull out the paper for the test, and immediately write the word I was trying to remember down in the corner. That way, I only had to be able to keep the word right in my head for half a minute and I’d be certain to get the hardest word correct on my test.

So, the test happened, we’d finished up, and I was handing in my paper when I heard a student next to me speak up.

Student #1: “Hey, he had his spelling list out the whole time!”

I looked down to my shock to see that I had. It had been under the sheet I was writing the words on where I couldn’t see it at the time, but it hadn’t been put away properly as it usually was. This was entirely an accident, of course, but I had little way to prove that.

Student #2: “Was he cheating?”

Me: “No, I mean to put it away. I didn’t know it was out!”

Student #1: “He should have to take the test again.”

Me: “No, that’s not fair. I forget all the words after the test.”

Student #2: “See, he did cheat.”

Yes, I realize that was about the most suspicious thing I could have said at the time. I was worried they wouldn’t let me memorize and write down a word like I usually do before a test if I was forced to retake it and, being a very little kid, I expressed that concern terribly.

Teacher: “No, it’s okay. He wasn’t cheating. It’s fine.”

Student #2: “How do you know?”

Teacher: “He got one of the words wrong.”

Sure enough, I had managed to get exactly one word misspelled. As a little kid, I had never been more thankful to have failed a test question in my life. I’m glad my teacher wasn’t too quick to leap to presumptions.

Way Too Much Drama In The Drama Department

, , , , | Learning | December 19, 2022

CONTENT WARNING: Sexual Harassment

Back when I was a theater major, I had a lesbian professor who openly shamed the non-LGBT+ students for partying and exploring adulthood while praising the LGBT+ students for doing the same thing. Maybe it was her way of evening out years of homophobia, but it really only made anyone who wasn’t out (like me) or was straight dislike and avoid everything she was involved in.

During one of our shows, a set piece broke and needed to be repaired before the next night. [Professor] gathered the entire cast and crew.

Professor: “We need about five people to stay tonight to fix this.”

Friend: *Whispering to me* “Are you staying?”

[Professor] was still talking but she was looking at us out of the corner of her eye.

I gave a small shake of my head to say I was not.

Professor: *Louder* “If you think you have something more important to do tonight, like [My Name] over there, think again. This is your future.”

I walked away. My parents drove three hours to see me in the show and have dinner with me; I wasn’t going to stick around. The set did get fixed, but only because they offered extra credit to anyone who stayed.

Years later, at a reunion, someone brought [Professor] up and asked what happened to her. She had been quietly dismissed from the faculty after some of the students alleged that she had offered to help them figure out their sexuality by sleeping with them.