Friday, June 18, 2010

Teacher Tantrums: Who’s Your SpongeBob?

(In which it was a battle between my student and my endangered patience.)


I’ve been suspending this blog entry for a long time since I can’t think of an incident to let it go with. But fortunately, I now have enough reasons to upset SpongeBob fans by including him in this post fueled by a student-teacher fight.

Because of my early shift, I was able to watch SpongeBob. That day’s episode was “Mrs. Puff, You're Fired”. Miss Puff (SpongeBob’s driving teacher) was reprimanded by the superintendent for SpongeBob’s numerous failing grades (1,258,056 times!) She was told that if he failed yet another test, she’ll be fired. She retorted that SpongeBob is unteachable. So they let him took a driving test and Miss Puff guided him with the process, trying desperately to make him remember what to do. In the end, another failed test was added to SpongeBob’s notorious records.

So Miss Puff was fired but instead of sulking over the loss of her job, she was delighted!

“No more SpongeBob!” she laughed in disbelief mixed with relief.

So another teacher took over. He’s a disciplinarian shark wearing military uniform who gave his students this preview of his teaching methods.

“Your spines will break, your teeth will ache. Your eyes will be bloodshot.”

Then he threw two students out for eating and speaking.

In the end, SpongeBob still failed and Miss Puff wept when she realized that she’ll be having SpongeBob in her class again. At least the superintendent now realized how unteachable SpongeBob is.

We were told, as teachers, that if the students didn’t learn, then we didn’t teach. For that reason, we are expected to do our job well and make sure that all students (but I prefer the “majority” of them) will learn. Throughout the class time, we’re also expected to keep our cool and be patient for slow learners. And those things I always tried (and succeeded) to keep in mind (and to practice) . . . until today.

My first student every day is, although not as unteachable as SpongeBob, is definitely not as cheerful and optimistic let alone amusing. He stutters when he speaks and has an attitude as if he’s smarter than his teacher. After having several classes with him in a regular classroom and on telephone as well as hearing the feedbacks from his former teachers, I was utterly convinced that he doesn’t really need the kind of instruction we’re offering. He needs something more special.

As always, I put my best (as well as the most patient and understanding) foot forward in our class. I do not want to be irritated with his antics and mild attacks of arrogance and rudeness. But of course, everything has its limits and my patience isn’t an exception. I didn’t mind if he obviously didn’t listen to me as he kept on giving incorrect answers after another. But he continuously breathed hard on the receiver. And that I couldn’t take anymore.

“Carl, could you please stop breathing hard on the phone? It’s painful to my ear!” I said impatiently.

“W-what? I-it’s not me!” he stammered in defense.

“Then who is it? What is it?” I asked back, my face warmer.

“I-I d-don’t know! I-it’s not m-me! T-the shoo-shoo sound, I don’t know! It’s not me!”

“Ok. There’s no shoo-shoo sound now.”

“I said i-it’s not me! Are you crazy? – “

“- What?!”

Dead air. Silence as cold as the air in the office and as hard as my grip on the table. For more than half a minute no one spoke. The shoo-shoo sound was completely gone. I tried to gather the remaining calmness in me and continued the class. Just two more minutes, I thought.

“Yeah, so Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins even asked their neighbors to do things for them,” I said in an obviously high-pitched voice which made me realize that I’m not a very good liar.

I heard movements in the other line and a button was pressed. I didn’t say more since I know there was no one who’ll respond. I clicked the off button fifty seconds before the class was supposed to end.

I informed the staff about the incident and they promised to check it. After half an hour, Camille dashed in my room, leaned on the open door with her left hand on her left hip.

“What happened? With Carl?”

She’s dead serious. What now? I’m dead meat?

“I listened to the call. It’s your fault!” she said, still dead serious.

“What?” I asked, completely thinking she’s mistaken.

“Yes, and because of that I’m gonna punish you.”

Uh oh. Am I gonna be fired like Mrs. Puff because of the fault of a student?

I looked at her face but couldn’t do that for long because of the hardness of her expression.

“Refresh your schedule!”

I pressed F5 and waited forever for the page to load. The page was slowly becoming clear when she uttered, “Congratulations!” sweetly like a nightingale.

I put my hand on my chest as if in fear of my heart falling. I knitted my eyebrows when I saw her laughing.

“I listened. And I talked to him. I heard the shoo-shoo sound too but he said it wasn’t him. So I told him ‘Do you wanna die or something?’ Haha! But anyway, look at your schedule? Where’s Carl? Congratulations!” Camille gleefully recounted.

I smiled at her but I told her I felt bad with what happened too. I also shouted at him and that somehow made me at fault.

But enough with the guilty trip.

“No more Carl! No more Carl! Haha!”