The English Teacher


Three Minutes
March 3, 2008, 5:12 pm
Filed under: Daily Life

It’s hard to believe how the quickly the tempo of a class can change and what can cause that change.  It was an uneventful class period.  The students were working pretty well in their groups on an activity.  Two of my problem students were actually present, but one was actually working and the other was sitting quietly, albeit unproductively.  When it was soon time for the bell to ring, I told the students to hand in their assignments and pack up.  I also had them fix their rows and sit in their seats until the bell actually rang.  Most of them did, except for the two problem students.  When I reminded them again, they caused a big scene, complaining about how mean I am and how pointless it is for them to sit down when they only had thirty seconds left in class (apparently, they need to retake math and learn how to tell time).  I simply told them that this was a matter of respect and discipline.  Frankly, I was surprised by this outburst since I wasn’t asking them to do anything difficult.  I didn’t even mind the students talking to one another since they, for the most part, had worked hard the entire period to finish their group assignments.  However, being told to have a seat and wait for the bell was too much to ask.  Of course, when the other two began their outburst, the rest of the class thought it was hilarious and started laughing and goofing around, too.  With the class’ attention as their reward, the two started acting out more, and one of them even said that I couldn’t tell him what to do because I wasn’t his fucking father.  Internally, I thought, “Well, I’m glad I’m not your father because I would have abandoned you a long time ago.”  Harsh, yes, but this is a student who bullies his own parents so they can’t even stand up to him.  Even when I told them to stay after class, they both left.  However, one of the students came back and I really laid into him.  I told him that I left him alone for most of the period because I could tell he was upset.  He acknowledged that he had had a bad day, but he also admitted that he was in the wrong for letting his frustrations out on me.  I didn’t want to let him off easily so I practically yelled at him and told him that he was smart, very smart and he was wasting his potential by acting like this.  The saddest part is that this was all true.  This kid is very bright and, even though he hasn’t turned in any homework assignments, he is still managing to pass this class based solely on his quiz grades.  He looked like he was thinking over my words, but I don’t know if he was just putting on an act or if he was sincere.  I’d like to be optimistic and say it was the latter, but I’ve given variations of the this speech before, with the same reaction, only to have the same behaviors repeated.

Three minutes can ruin an entire day.

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