Killing Your English Teacher Softly

 In Seriously?

Every year, around this time, it happens. We start to get a little discouraged.

Oh, we start in September with high hopes and glass half full hearts. We look at our class lists and see them as clean slates, slates that can learn the difference between there, their and they’re. Slates that will learn that we punctuate the titles of long works of literature by underlining them. Slates that can be taught that marks of punctuation go inside the quotation marks.

And, then May rolls around and post tests approach and we read with dismay their writing. I find myself writing over and over comments such as “Incorporate quotes into your own writing.” Then, “For the love of all that is holy, introduce that quote.” And finally, “Are you trying to hurt me?”

In fact, sometimes, I think they are trying to hurt me. They hurt me by continually referring to Harper Lee’s famous novel as How To Kill A Mockingbird, as though it were a hunting manual. They will no doubt go on to tell me in the essay that Tom Robinson was accused of rapping a white woman, as though he violated her with a rap song.

They aren’t even listening to me! Their eyes are directed into their crotches, which means they are either texting or…well, I don’t want to think about other alternatives, so let’s just say they are texting.

Sometimes, I retaliate with little warfare of my own. Here are a few ways English teachers can get revenge:

1. Separate the students into groups according to their birth order. Then assign them to do a collaborative essay. Sit back and watch things deteriorate as the Firstborns all try to take charge, the middleborns scheme to get someone else to do the work and the last borns screw off, sure someone will come by to do it for them. In the world of education, there should always be time for sadistic social experiments.

2. Write a multiple choice test in which every answer is C. Watch their expressions crease in confusion as they work on it, certain that there cannot statistically be that many Cs in a row. You know, scratch that, make every answer C except the last one! That should get them. (As an added bonus, this test will be very easy to correct)

3. Tell them to take out a sheet of paper and write these words 25 times: “The titles of large works of literature are underlined, not put in quotes.” Tell them no, they cannot copy and paste, they must hand write it. See, the torture is part of the learning process here. Sometimes, there is no school like the old school.

I know of one teacher who staples a McDonald’s application on each failing essay, but I think that may be going too far. No, when I get done playing games, I will start over. I will keep trying. As discouraging as it seems, I will not give up! Before I die, I will teach them to put the period inside the quotation marks! I will remember the words of one of my students when she wrote:

“Persistence can be summed up in two words: Never Give Up.”

(I’m betting she didn’t do well on the Math final, either)


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Showing 3 comments
  • Jennifer Hanno

    I see that my links aren’t working, so I will just paste this old classic here:

    The Joy of Teaching

    Then Jesus took his disciples up the mountain and, gathering them around him, he taught them, saying:

    Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
    Blessed are the meek
    Blessed are they that mourn
    Blessed are the merciful
    Blessed are they that thirst for justice
    Blessed are you when persecuted
    Blessed are you when you suffer
    Be glad and rejoice for your reward is great in heaven
    Then Simon Peter said, “Are we supposed to know this?”
    And Andrew said, “Do we have to write this down?”
    And James said, “Is this examinable?”
    And Phillip said, “Is there an answer guide in the library?”
    And Bartholomew said, “What came after poor?”
    And John said, “The other disciples didn’t have to learn this!”
    And Mark said, “Don’t take the overhead off yet.”
    And Matthew went to the bathroom.

    One of the Pharisees who was present asked to see Jesus’ lesson plan and enquired of Jesus, “Where are your anticipatory set and your objectives in the cognitive domain?”

    And Jesus wept.

  • Chad Broughman

    I’m using the all “c” answer key – love it! Thanks for the revenge tactic!

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