I was having a conversation last week with a colleague – a fellow educator. We teach the same subject and have even exchanged students this year. On this day, I had a hell of a morning. You know how life goes; somedays things are mostly good and other days it’s all a crap shoot. This was a day I had the urge to flee. I wanted to run from life and it was really the day that I decided that this was not the profession for me. No amount of time, continuing education bullshit, or anything else could make me stay. Anyway, back to the convo (come on brain, stay on track). We were talking about a group of students that had cheated on an assignment. This thing I had assigned them was worth a test grade. It was something that needed to be done independently. I wrote a letter to the students about the assignment and made it the first page they saw every time they opened this packet. They had to complete it over spring break and it was something I had discussed for a solid week with my students before I handed it to them.
These kids come and confront me about me grading the assignment and dividing it by the number of them that had worked on it. They got the credit they deserved. These students freaked out. They were not used to a teacher calling them on their bullshit. We had a talk about it and they were not happy. I sent them to the department head to handle it. This coworker happened to be present when they went to the department head and he heard it all.
My coworker says to me that the kids were voicing their confusion about needing to complete the assignment individually. This was their argument for wanting full credit. I literally wanted to flip a table and scream at the top of my lungs. I had worked for days getting this thing together. Taken my precious off work time to make sure that things lined up. I recorded content and published lectures online. All I needed them to do was to consume the information and answer some questions that would prepare them for an AP exam that’s coming (whether they want it to or not). This is not even what made me a psychopath for a split second. It was the fact that I had shared this very document and plan with the coworker who was vouching for these kids. Okay, I am slightly exaggerating; he wasn’t vouching for them, he just wasn’t as pissed as I was about their half ass excuse. So, I threw a chair, ripped up some papers that were on a nearby counter, and stormed out of the room. THE END.
STOP HERE IF YOU LOVE THE WAY THIS ENDED…
Sike! That’s what I wanted to do…but, I did not snap folks. I just shook my head and chuckled. Typical passive old me. Imagine what would happen if we all could just do what we felt. What a world.
Obviously, my laughter and head shaking didn’t have a profound effect on this exchange. And so, I talk – once again – about the assignment. I remind him that I wrote it, shared it with him, and he allegedly read it. He then passed it out to his students! He tells me that I am working too hard. What does that even mean? Me preparing material for kids that I am supposed to educate is “working too hard”??? What’s wrong with this picture?
Another grown and capable adult thought that it was okay to say that the kids were confused. He also thought that after the ordeal, to tell me that I am working too hard was the thing to say? Where’s the comradery? Support? How about just a “that’s really fucked up”? The problem is not the time I spent. THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM HERE IS THAT PEOPLE DO NOT READ and no one gives a single fuck.
This is so ridiculous, here I sit writing, but I know people don’t fucking read. Why is it that we can spend time reading bullshit tweets and comments, but do everything in our power not to consume the very content that all of the posting and commenting surrounds? Why did I even waste my time with the construction of something that would be beneficial to others, knowing that they would do their damnedest to work around it? The pattern goes: 1 – student gets an assignment; 2 – look at the questions without reading directions or anything else before trying to answer said questions; 3 – spend 30 to 45 minutes searching online for the answers. They don’t read the answers they are copying down. They even stop reading the questions themselves. What exactly is the point? I am tired of or going through the motions. When does the learning happen?
I have heard people say they are frightened for the future and I could mostly understand the statement but for the longest I had no empathy. For the first time in my teaching career I have felt the butterfly knot tying sensation in my gut after watching kids mindlessly look for the answers to something that they could do on their own if they shifted the focus from the internet into actually trying to learn content. I am becoming that person on a soapbox here. I am done with this rant. But I hope you don’t equate my brevity here with the attention this really deserves. Someone, please do research about the effects of googling everything on your brain’s capacity to do work on its own. Share your findings of how that important organ that is the basis for your consciousness and ability to sense the world around you will turn into bowl of mush and leave you not being able to form your own thoughts or opinions about anything worthwhile because you need google to know how to appear to feel.
So back to this talk with the coworker and the question that I posed as the title for this blog…he tells me that he “forgot” about the first page and he pretends to remember all about the packet that I put time into. So, we move on to why it is that students feel like they can pull this shit with some teachers and don’t even bat an eye at another.
He says that some teachers just have this quality about themselves and kids don’t think about “fucking with them” – his words not mine (see I am not the only cursing educator). We start going down a list of superlatives and none of them fit this “it” factor that makes kids not want to fuck with you. It’s not race, gender, personality, word choice, dress choice, age, and this went on for about 3 minutes. I bring up this one example, so we can figure out what it is that would make a group of kids think this shit is okay to turn in…
The other teacher that was given this to grade is anything but lax and yet a group of students felt that it’s totally fine to give her this as a helpful mnemonic to remember the wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum.
People, THERE IS A FUCKING PAD IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS PROJECT and it’s signed UR XANAX GIRL. What is it that she and I am missing that this other teacher has going for him? The answer…I have no idea, and nothing came from this whole encounter but reinforcement that I have to get out.
If you know the adjective for an un-fuck-with-able teacher let me know what it is and how to capture it. On second thought, keep it to yourself, package it, and sell it on Amazon. You are going to be rich my friend. Very, very rich.