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And Three Rights Make A Left

, , , , , , | Learning | February 23, 2023

My high school football coach was a great guy, but when he got excited or worked up, he had an interesting way with words. This happened at half-time when we were losing by only a few points.

Coach: “This is close, guys! We gotta get some energy going and get things turned around! Like a DJ, turn those tables 360 degrees!”

Player: “Wait… 360 degrees?”

Coach: “H*** yeah! All the way around!”

Player: “Coach, if we turn around 360 degrees, we’ll be going in the same direction. That means we’ll lose by even more.”

Coach: “Who cares about the numbers?! ALL THE WAY AROUND! Let’s go!”

Not The Kind Of Harsh Lesson You Expected To Learn

, , , , , , , , | Learning | February 19, 2023

At my primary school, the year fives and sixes got to go on a trip to this outdoorsy activity centre. We stayed for a week, sleeping inside where the bunk beds were since the trip was in late autumn.

As well as all the outdoorsy “fun” activities we got to do, every afternoon, we had an hour or so in a cabin-like classroom, and we could spend any money we had taken with us at the tuck shop. It was mostly just chocolate and sweets and stuff, but on Thursday — the last day since we went home on Friday — there were little souvenirs like a tiny teddy bear and a pen in the shape of an arrow.

We also had group chores. I don’t remember what all of the chores were, but in year six, my chore was to tidy the dinner hall after breakfast with four of my classmates.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning, this was fine. We wiped the tables and vacuumed the floors and such.

Thursday morning, we did some of that. As I was getting the vacuum cleaner with the smiley face out of the cupboard, one of the classmates I shared this chore with approached me.

Classmate: “The teacher said we don’t have to vacuum today.”

Me: “We don’t?”

Classmate: “Nope. We can go now.”

I looked to see what the other three were doing, and they were waiting by the door, ready to leave.

Me: “Okay.”

And my poor, naive, ten-year-old self put the smiley vacuum back and left with the others.

As some of you may have already guessed, no teacher had said any such thing.

When we went to that hour in the cabin classroom that evening, the teacher started with an announcement. It went on for a while, but the gist of what she said was this:

Teacher: “[My Group] left the dinner hall in a right state. They should be ashamed of themselves. They’re all really selfish, expecting our kind hosts to clean up after them when everyone else has been doing their chores. As punishment, they will not be allowed to go to the tuck shop tonight.”

I was devastated. I thought of myself as a good student and hated getting in any kind of trouble. And, as far as I was aware at the time, I was in trouble when I hadn’t done anything wrong.

I’d also been saving my £5 all week (even though some of the other kids were able to spend that much on sweets each day) so I could get each of my sisters a teddy (and spend the change on sweets). And now, I was banned from the last day of the tuck shop. I was bawling.

One of the teaching assistants took me out of the classroom, probably because my crying would not help the other students focus on whatever they were supposed to be doing.

She calmed me down enough that I could explain why I thought I hadn’t done anything wrong. She explained that I had been lied to and that I should have finished doing the chore unless a teacher told me personally not to. Most importantly, to ten-year-old me at least, she said that if I gave her my £5 note, then she would go to the tuck shop for me to get my sisters their teddies.

I was still upset, but I accepted her offer and returned to the lesson. Later, out of view of the other students, she gave me two tiny teddies and my change.

I’m so glad she was so nice and understanding, even though I hadn’t done what I was supposed to.

We Are 100% Mathematically Sure That Teacher Helped

, , , | Learning | February 9, 2023

When I was in High School, I was mostly ignored by my classmates. I was also not that great in math and did every assignment and math problem, hoping to understand the concept.

When I am in my graduation year (2000’s), there are two types of exams: the one big national exam at the end of the year and three ‘smaller’ exams the teachers create themselves. I practice hard but the first two don’t go… that great. So, I double-study time for the last test.

I am doing one of the mock exams the teacher offers. I know I am the only one doing it, the teacher even mentioned it. He doesn’t give up on me and explains what I did wrong. I think I understand the concept!

During a study break, most students just chat, but three boys have the math books in their hands. They are the smart boys; they understand everything first try!

Boy #1: “I just don’t get it.”

Boy #2: “What are we doing wrong?”

Boy #3: “Let’s ask [My Name].”

I look up, surprised. They’re noticing me? Why? What is the catch? They can’t be serious!

Boy #1: “Hey, [My Name], you did the mock exam, right? Did you face this problem?”

Me: “Oh, yes! I did! The teacher explained it to me… Do you want me to explain it?”

Boy #2: “Yes please!”

They weren’t kidding, they did ask for my help! And when we have the teacher-made exam:

Me: *In my head.* “Okay, three problems, I have an hour… let’s go! Oh, this first problem looks like the mock exam. Yes, I know this! Huh, it even has the same result. Did I really do this right? Okay, I’ll check back later, problem two… this is the same as on the mock exam. The names are different, but this is the same… And the result is the same as well. This can’t be right! And problem three… oh, I’m messing this up! I’m getting the exact same answers as the mock exam! This can’t be right! I’m going to fail!”

Can you imagine my face when I got back a 100% on the test score? I was the only one in my class to get that grade. The three boys who asked for my help did pass and thanked me for my help.

I still wonder why the teacher used the mock exam as an official exam, only changing names and stories. He must have known I had practiced it, right? In the end, this 100%-grade boosted my average so much that I had enough points to pass my final math exam.

Stay Frosty! (It Goes Great With Fries)

, , , , , , | Learning | February 2, 2023

I’m a middle school teacher, and I try to keep up with “the hip lingo.” (Thank you, Urban Dictionary.) I’m not very good with it, but I do know that the new word “salty” means that someone has a bad attitude or is giving someone attitude.

I’m in class with a student who is giving me attitude. He also is “too cool for school” and loves to give teachers the runaround. I’ve had enough and decide to mess with him.

Me: “Am I a french fry?”

He blinks.

Kid: “What?”

Me: “Am I a french fry?”

Kid: “I don’t know what that means.”

Me: “Am I a french fry?”

Kid: “No?”

Me: “Then stop throwing salt at me!”

The class laughed and he even chuckled. He fixed his attitude after that.

So Not Getting The Point, Or The Points

, , , , , , , | Learning | January 27, 2023

I give my class a two-part assignment: answer some questions about the reading and then participate in the in-class discussion. Participation is graded on whether you show up and say at least one thing within a small group — nothing big.

A student doesn’t attend class and doesn’t explain their absence, so they receive credit for only the reading questions — five of ten points. They come to talk to me about two weeks later.

Student: “I don’t think it’s fair that I only got five points. Why didn’t I get all ten points?”

Me: “Because you only did half the assignment; you didn’t attend class for the discussion.”

Student: “I don’t think it’s fair, though. Can I have the other points back?”

Me: “No, you only did half the assignment.”

Student: “You didn’t say on the sheet that I was supposed to attend class. Can I have the other points back?”

Me: “When I introduced the assignment, I said you have to attend class to get full credit. The information about this group of assignments posted online says you need to attend class for full credit.”

Student: “I don’t think it’s fair. Can I have the points back?”

Me: “No.”

Student: “It’s only five points. Can’t I just have the points?”

Me: “No.”

Student: “Can I do another assignment?”

Me: “No.”

Student: “Can’t I just do an extra credit assignment?”

Me: “No.”

Student: “It’s not fair!”

Me: “If you don’t like it, you can talk to the department chair and I’ll go with her decision.”

Student: “No, no, that’s not necessary! I just wondered if I could have the points.”

Me: “No!”

Student: “I didn’t know I had to come to class.”

Me: “No! This is really my final word. If you can’t accept it, you really need to talk to the department chair.”

Student: “No, that’s not necessary. This is not a big deal. I just don’t think it’s fair. It’s only five points.”