Monday, November 19, 2007

If You Two Don't Get To Work . . .

I used to teach high school. I taught full-time and part-time; I taught Senior English Honors, Junior English, Sophomore English Honors, and ESL; I taught funny kids, crazy kids, shy kids, sullen kids, suck-up kids, and kids who were chock-full of personality. I quit teaching after Spe was born, because it just wasn't going to work out--someone, somewhere was going to get neglected. I'm pretty happy with the choice that I made to stay home, but there are some days that I really miss being in a classroom, with all that entails. Fortunately, I have a slew of memories, both good and bad, to carry me through.

One of my favorites took place in Senior Honors during my second year of teaching. I had two boys whom we will refer to as Jake and Doug (because those are their real names--I don't believe in this protecting the innocent deal). Jake and Doug were a fairly good-humored but extremely obnoxious duo, particularly for an honors class, where most students write a five page paper when you ask for a three page paper. It was pretty early on in the year, and Jake and Doug and I were still . . . adjusting. Meaning, I was still bringing the hammer down on their obnoxious behavior and they were still trying to see how heavy the hammer would actually be.

So, one class period, we were all enthralled with Beowulf (I have found that any story with character names like Hrothgar or Wulfgar or Edgetho is such an easy sell to teenagers. They double love it when we discuss scops. It's just so relevant, you know?) and so we had a little in-class project partner work going. (The Assignment: Create a four-part spin-off of How to Win Friends and Influence People for Anglo-Saxons. What have we learned so far in the story about this fascinating culture and what social success means to Anglo-Saxons?) I generally let students pick their own partners (especially seniors--hello, they are practically adults!), so I wasn't that surprised to find that Doug and Jake had partnered up. I did know, however, that this wasn't the best idea.

Before I let the class start, the following exchange occurs:

Me: Doug, Jake, are you sure you two can work together and still be productive?

Them: Oh, yes, we TOTALLY can. We will work so hard together and we'll have the best brochure in the whole class. (This is all accompanied with a self-satisfied smirk that belies their true intentions.)

Me: Fine, gentlemen. But I'm just warning you, (point with finger menacingly) that if you two don't work hard during class, I WILL 'F' YOU!

Well, obviously I meant to say, "I will give you an 'F,' or "I will FAIL you," but somehow the two phrases became jumbled in my head in George Bush-like fashion and it just came out terribly, terribly wrong. Do I need to mention that the whole class of 35 students was listening in?

Them: HA, HA, HA! (Hysterical laughter) Really? Do you promise? HA! HA! HA! (More hysterical laughter.)

Do I need to tell you that from then on whenever I gave instructions, these sweet, dear boys would say, "So if we don't do this, will you 'F' us?"

I have to confess I felt a little bit vindicated when I found out that after high school Jake went to prison for armed robbery of a drugstore (apparently even honors students get hooked on prescription pills). I couldn't help but think, "If only you cared more about the scops, this never would have happened." But then again, I don't really care about the scops and I've managed to avoid incarceration. So far.


Leisha said...

I have newfound respect...teaching HS anything would make me want to pull my hair out. And you MISS it.

P.S. I'm happy they didn't report you for sexual harrassment, LOL!

Sarah Anne said...

Will you tell more stories? I miss them.
I waited with anxious anticipation for the punchline of this story and loved it-even though I knew it.

Battle Axe Hadley-you are the best!

Jenny said...

thanks for the kind comments on my blog! it's so fun meeting new people in this "blog world," and finding awesome new blogs to read. i'm excited to read more of yours.

my little sister teaches jr. high english and i thought about her as i read your post today. i'll have to share it w/ her because i'm sure she can relate. :)

Sibri said...

Heid. It's fantastic that I continue to get these insights into your world. I don't half miss you my dear!

Jen said...

I almost taught English, and now I almost wish I had. That is a hilarious story. Open mouth, insert foot. Yum.

Valerie said...

I am laughing my pants off! That is something I would do.

The Rookie said...

I just linked to this from a recent post and I AM LAUGHING HYSTERICALLY and I just can't seem to stop.

Perhaps it is the premonition that sometime in the near-future I will subconsciously repeat your faux pas. Now that this powerful threat is in my mind I just know it will happen. I'll be laying down the law to a pain in the, well, a pain...and somewhere in my mind I'll think to myself "Don't say 'I will F you' like Heidi did, whatever you do!" But then, of course, I'll end up saying it aloud because thought and speech don't work cooperatively in my brain.

And I will blame you when I lose my teaching license.