You Scored A Top Ten

, , , , , , | | Learning | May 16, 2019

I’ve always been a bit advanced for my age. When I was four years old, my first preschool shut down halfway through the year, and the only other preschool at the time was at a local elementary school, so grandmother enrolled me there.

At the time, I could count up to 39 but was having trouble grasping 40, and when my grandmother told this to the staff, their response signaled to my grandmother that I would be going to a different school for kindergarten onward.

“Oh, we only care if she can count to ten!”

Time Is Math

, , , , , , | | Learning | May 15, 2019

One of the disadvantages in teaching in my part of Alaska was that when spring finally rolled around, most of the boys — and some of the girls — would prefer to be out on the tundra shooting at the amazing plethora of recently-arrived ducks, geese, and cranes — and hopefully not shooting any swans!

Because hunting was a skill that was very important to the Yup’ik culture — and useful, too — I understood that they were learning some practical skills even outside my classroom. But on the other hand, if I reported too many absences, I’d be catching some flack from our district admins.

So, on whatever day that class attendance had dropped unacceptably low, I’d announce a lesson in ”money math.”

Some background info: over the course of that year, my students had been very active in fundraising, mainly showing movies for the village multiple days each week, at which we also sold a lot of popcorn, drinks, and homemade “ice pops.” So, by the end of the year, we had a lot of buckets full of coins. This money would usually follow them to the next higher grade the following year, but unfortunately, my predecessor had taken his classes’ money with him when he’d left the village two years earlier. To prevent that from happening again and to give my attending students some “real-life” math practice, I’d bring out one of the coin buckets and place a big handful of coins in front of each pair of “money math” partners.

They would then need to sort them into appropriate piles — quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies — and then use multiplication to find the total value of each type of coin — e.g. “7 quarters x 25 cents each = $1.75.” Then, each pair would need to add all of their total coin values together and write that amount in a list up on the blackboard. As a class, we then needed to add all of those amounts into a grand total of all the handed-out money for the day. And last, we needed to do on the board the most difficult division problem we’d ever done in order to figure out how much each student would be getting — and later giving them some additional practice at counting out their “shares.”

Hey, who says math needs to be boring?

As a pleasant, and very planned-upon consequence, attendance the following day would almost always be at or near 100%… even though “money math” was almost never offered two days in a row. I guess just the possibility that they might be missing out on a “money math” lesson gave them some extra motivation to not skip.

In The Name Of Anger

, , , , , , | | Learning | May 14, 2019

(I audition for the school musical and get a lead part. During rehearsals, it becomes apparent that the director does not know my name, despite her personally being present for my initial audition.)

Director: “All right, let’s go over this part again. Let’s start with… um…”

Me: “[My Name].”

Director: “[My Name]! Sorry!”

(This goes on for MONTHS, with her never making a real effort to learn to my name. One day, after a particularly bad day at school.)

Director: “Okay, let’s do this again. You, you there, um…”

Me: “GOD D*** IT!” *slams down music* “I am sick of this! I am your lead part! I have dealt with this nearly every day for three months! Please, just try to learn my name! It’s [My Name]! [My Name]! [My Name]!”

(The director’s jaw dropped. I later apologized, but she insisted that I was correct in my anger. She never forgot my name after that.)

A Proper Wraparound Statement

, , , | | Learning | May 14, 2019

(We are in music class. We have a band program that is mandatory. I am in the clarinet section, and there are more girls than boys. Our teacher is commenting on our seating arrangements when he lets out this gem:)

Teacher: “All right, maybe next time you boys sit in front and you girls wrap around them.”

(We never let him live that down, but what he had meant to say was that the girls sat AROUND us.)

Pushing Through The Chairs Of Anxiety

, , , , | | Learning | May 13, 2019

(My middle school math teacher seems to have had a severe problem with me and has no problem showing it. My learning disability does at times affect my work, which she doesn’t like, and if I come to see her during her after-school tutoring sessions that she holds for any student needing extra help, she rails on me for not understanding the work, and quickly loses her patience and refuses to help, telling me I am wasting time that the other students in the tutoring session need. All the while, she keeps going easier and even coddling students who do even less work or are even disruptive in class. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem to contain her dislike for me to my academic performance. In her class, desks are set up in quads pretty close together, meaning if you are sitting at the side of the “square” directly back to back with someone sitting at the square right next to yours, it is hard to get out of your seat unless the other person scoots their chair closer to their desk to let you out. I should also note that I’ve never exactly been thin.)

Teacher: “[My Name]! Come hand out these worksheets!”

(I attempt to get up only to see that the classmate behind me has his seat pushed out so I can’t get up.)

Me: “[Classmate], could you move your chair in, please?”

Classmate: *moves his seat in barely an inch, not enough to let me get up, moves it back, and laughs*

Teacher: “[My Name]! I told you to get up! Now!”

Me: “There’s not enough room…”

Teacher: “Stop slacking off!”

(I try again to get the classmate to move his chair, but he ignores me. I’m getting more and more upset since she’s continuing to yell at me in front of the class, even though all this is going on in front of her eyes. The deskmate right across from me tries to help by pulling her desk back so I can push my desk forward to make room, only to be yelled at by the teacher, as well, for moving the desks.)

Me: “I can’t get up with [Classmate]’s chair out like that!”

Teacher: *rolls her eyes, condescendingly* “[Classmate], move your chair in so she can get up.”

(The classmate moves in a little bit, just enough to let me get up, but before I can…)

Teacher: “Move in more than that! She’s fatter than you and needs the space!”

Me: *speechless*

(I wish I could say that was the worst of it. I missed a week of school due to my father passing away. I was attempting to catch up with my classes once I was back, and I attended one of her tutoring sessions. This time, due to still being in a pretty fragile state, the harsh treatment I received made me burst into tears. Her response was to just coldly say, “Don’t expect me to feel sorry for you just because your dad died!” That didn’t just shock me, but the other students in the room, as well. All I could do was grab my stuff and leave. The following school year, my mom was pulling me out for winter break a few days early so I could go on a trip with extended family, since this would be my first Christmas without my father. I went around to all my teachers to get holiday homework beforehand, and all were understanding and gave their planned assignments. When I went to this teacher, she scribbled some equations in my notebook and said that was it. I foolishly took her at her word. When classes started back up, I learned the homework was an entire section of our textbook. She railed on me for not doing the work, and when I tried to remind her she didn’t tell me what the work was, she sneered that that’s what I get for missing school. That following year, I ended up in the same high school with a bunch of classmates from middle school and we decided to get together and visit our old stomping ground one day after classes let out. When we arrived, we found four teachers sitting together in one of the classrooms: three of my favorite teachers, including two who had been such a comfort after my dad died and even came to his funeral, and THAT teacher. I got a petty little thrill at her shocked and offended expression when I deliberately ignored her, turned my back to her when speaking to the other teachers, and went around hugging all of them except for her. That’s what you get for being mean.)

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