Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Crappy teacher

This is an attempt at a 'My Day' post, about work yesterday. Skip it if you find 'My Day' posts boring. I'm trying to bounce myself out of my 'don't feel like writing' mood.

MY DAY (Tuesday)

I arrive early in order to commandeer one of the two copying machines in the teachers' room. Last week the students learned some vocabulary for talking about accidents, and today, by way of reinforcement, I'm giving them a board game in which they'll move around the board having bizarre accidents (and losing points), going to hospital (and gaining points), and telling each other what happened to them. After that I'll give them a new vocabulary handout about aches and pains. This is all leading up to a homework assignment which I hope will keep me amused while I'm grading it, in which they will write me letters making excuses for fictional absences from class. I'm hoping for things like this:

Sorry I couldn't come to class for the last three weeks. I had a terrible 'flu with fits of sneezing, and then when I was making breakfast I got my tongue stuck in the toaster and as I was leaving the house to go to the hospital I got my penis caught in the door and smashed it. On the way to the hospital I fell down a pothole and got a bad concussion, and had to stay in hospital for two weeks. Then my dog ate my homework and got a stomachache and died. I cried all night and now my eyes hurt and I have the hiccups.

Well, maybe I don't need the penis bit, but you get the idea. I get sick of their usual excuse for missing classes, which is, "I was sleeping." I want to slap them when they say that. Why can't they come up with something more inventive? Is it because they can't? I've decided to teach them how, hence this lesson plan.

The bell rings for the first class and I gather up my materials, chatting with four of the other teachers. As we move towards the door my bowels signal a message.

"Sod it!" I say, exasperated. "What am I, Pavlov's dog or something? The bell rings and suddenly I get an overwhelming urge to have a dump. This happens here EVERY WEEK. WHY DOES IT ALWAYS HAPPEN HERE?"

There is a startled silence and everybody stops and turns to look at me, and I remember belatedly that I'm not at the place where I can say things like this and everybody will take it in their stride. Here we are all polite and well-mannered and boring, except one guy I also work with elsewhere, who is going pink with a suppressed rude comment.

The other three guys decide, after their initial surprise, that this is a topic worthy of serious discussion, and on our way to the lifts we discuss the difficulties of reconciling bodily functions with a teaching schedule. We agree that it is wise to give precedence to bodily functions.

I do not do the wise thing, however. I did that all through last semester and half of my first period students wrote on the class evaluation forms:

Teacher is often late.

The little rotters! Teacher was not late. Teacher was at school forty minutes before they were. When the bell rang TEACHER WAS DOWN THE HALL, CRAPPING.

The accident game is a great hit. The classroom echoes with cries of,

"You look terrible! What happened?"

"I poked myself with a chopstick and injured my eye."

"I sat on a tack."

"I rode my bicycle into a power pole and dislocated my shoulder."


Most of the students end up with minus points, and some want to know if that means they are dead. I tell them no, but they are limping badly, unless they have lost a huge number of points in which case they are badly limping accident-prone zombies. I demonstrate limping and make a note to adjust the points system.

After that we get into the 'aches and pains' vocabulary list, and the students watch in amazement while I demonstrate hiccups, vomiting, dizziness, and so on. They think their teacher is mad. I doubt they'll forget these words, though.

After the morning classes the lunchtime meeting takes up the entire lunch break, but at least I'm given a good lunch. It is a lot larger than my usual lunch. The meeting is boring, as meetings usually are. We try to sound serious about our jobs. We complain about various things (for pedagogical reasons, of course) and the bosses nod seriously and take notes. Nothing ever changes as a result of these meetings.

I coast through the next class on autopilot, feeling extremely full. Halfway through the last class I realize that I still haven't had time to get to the toilet. As I shout, "I AM CONSTIPATED!" and the class repeats it after me I wonder if choosing this particular lesson today is an example of irony. I'm fairly sure it's not satire, although it probably qualifies as farce.

This last class includes one third year student who sticks out like a giant amongst children. He plays American football. He failed English in his first year because he hated it (he said) and then went to the US for eight months and became miraculously fluent (in slang particularly) thus missing another year, and is now having to retake basic English with me. I don't know quite how he got through the new streaming system and ended up in this particular class, which isn't a very high one, but I told him that if he wanted to stay I'd give him an A if he promised to help me. He agreed, and is a real asset in the classroom because the others think he is super cool and he uses English all the time. He makes it cool to use English. Also, I notice, he teaches them the interesting words they REALLY want to know. Today's new word is handjob.

Does he think I can't hear him because he is in the group at the back of the class? He is wrong. Teacher may be late sometimes but she hears EVERYTHING.

As usual I ignore this unofficial mini-lesson at the back of the room. It is refreshing to see the bad boys looking so fascinated by English. There is something terrifically innocent about the way the younger guys gaze at the older one. He looks modest and grave, and nods wisely

"Honto?" they say, and ponder the word thoughtfully. "Job ... hand ... ah so ka!" they say, nodding. They look SO SERIOUS. If I didn't know better I might think they are actually studying.

I suppose they are, really, but that one won't be on the test. (I'm a little worried about the homework assignments from that class, though.)

After the last class finishes I head off to the toilet, but it is too late. My bowels refuse to function on Tuesdays except at precisely nine in the morning, apparently, triggered by the bell. After that it is concrete all the way down.

I may have to start being a late, crappy teacher again.


melinama said...

I love "a day in the life" - it makes a lurker very, very happy. You will just have to convince your body that it is 9 in the morning at some other time. Bodies are stupid, you can do it.

Wiccachicky said...

Hahahahahahaha - I love it! I'm always happy to see you find funny ways to write about your students. I always find I get so frustrated it's hard for me to come up with something funny to say.

kenju said...

"Handjob".....let's see now.....that would be a manicure, right???

Get yourself another bell and ring it at 8:30 am. That should do the trick!

Faerunner said...

As a language student I know from experience that the most fun way to learn a language is to find someone who will teach you how to say all the bad things first, and then instruct you in the more proper usage in case you need to talk your way out of a situation without sounding like a tourist. :D
It's also helpful to know when someone is insulting you.

Lippy said...

Sorry, Badaunt, but you know someone has to say it - might as well be me: you may have been constipated, but your writing sure isn't! What a laugh!

tinyhands said...

Very happy here as well. Thought for a moment one of the symptoms you were going to have to demonstrate was "a burning sensation" but at least you didn't have to mime the other vocab lesson.

fallensnow said...

absolutely love your 'my day' posts!

Cheryl said...

Late and crappy? Deliberate pun and contradiction?

ROFL - brilliant post. I annoyed my husband by cackling out loud at least twice.