Finals and Feelings and Four-letter Words

I received an email today that said my score report for the test I bombed at the beginning of January would be sent to this address between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. eastern time.

I’m waiting for it to appear. If biting my fingernails were my nervous habit, I’d be biting them. Instead, I’m sweating. And waiting. I don’t know what to pray for.

Today was a tough day. I gave a final and expected a smooth, subdued day. Boy, was I wrong. All of the kids who know they’re failing were out to avenge their bad grade: throwing things, telling me “no kay,” talking during the test, disrupting the class, in general acting like complete a—-es.

But I don’t blame them. This system has them penned up all day. If they want to succeed in it, they have to be penned up all night — doing homework. They act like animals because they slog away day in and day out to participate in pointless keep-them-busy activities so that they don’t go wild. Bell rings. Trudge to the next class. Bell rings. Animated talking to the friends that become their life. Girls show off their birth-control patch sewn into their arms. Boys shoot things, stick tacks into people, spit things, throw things. Play stupid tricks on each other to pass the time. It’s not like they have any real work. Anything that really matters to do. Anything that resembles a real problem, real work. Arm themselves for battle against “the teacher” who is out to waste their time and draw them away from the their friends and their phones and their games which is their life.

Student who shall not be named who has done little but cause me grief wants to play baseball and make up his grade. I tell him it would take a miracle. But … I add … I believe in miracles. That was two weeks ago. Never saw him again other than to disrupt class.

Somehow he aced the test. In order to avoid cheating, I have to make four versions of the same test and monitor the class constantly. I also have to mark each test with a pen with the correct ID in order for them not to just put their neighbor’s ID on it. But with all those precautions, a boy who has a 17 per cent and has never listened to a thing I say aced the test. Hmmmm… I decide to just put the grade in as is. I don’t have time to bring this boy to justice. His grade is still an F. Not only is he bad at Spanish. Obviously, math is not a strength — or he’d know that an A at the end of the year can’t rescusitate a dead grade.  

But I’ll congratulate him tomorrow. And I’ll lay it on thick, heaping the coals on his head, hoping his conscience will groan under it.  

I feel sorry for him. Baseball is an outlet. It’s probably the one thing he’s good at. Let him use his body and expend some energy. Let him be the best at something for once. He’s a complete failure in school — and sitting and sitting and listening and listening and doing what you’re told and standing in line and writing answers to problems and turning things in and putting things into little folders and making little schedules and keeping track of what needs to be done. At that, he’s doomed.

I’d be hung at the school for saying this: but I don’t think kids should be required to get good grades to play sports. I think kids should just find their strengths and excel at whatever they can. I don’t think that jumping through teacher’s hoops is anymore important than shooting a ball through one. They both take discipline. They both take hard-work. I think that student B would be a better student if he could play baseball at night. But oooohhh… I’d have to defend myself if I said that out loud.

I don’t blame the kids for giving me hell today either. I wouldn’t want to sit for two hours at a time and take test after test after test either. Especially on a beautiful day like today. While the eastern part of the United States is under a cold snap, here in Central Oregon, those of us who know where to go are playing tennis. It’s lovely.

At least, Elsa is. I entered grades into the gradebook til my eyes hurt. Then, drove home. Ate Paul’s delicious dinner. A load of laundry. And …. that lovely deposit of massive homework to be gotten through with my children. For Ingrid, each letter corresponds with a number. We have to write a four-letter word that adds up to 42. I can think of a couple four-letter words that corresponds to how I feel about homework. I learned a few from the penned-up, baseball-less boys at school today.



  1. Danielle,

    I understand your pain. I am faced with kids who refuse to do the final project and consider failing the class that they were passing before not turning this assignment in an ok option. Why? I ask the question repeatedly to no avail. The teacher I am teaching for insisted that I not let the final fail anyone. Well if that isn’t an extra workload for me, I don’t know what is. I am trying to motivate the unmotivated. I resorted to allowing them to tell me what they learned in the course for enough points to get them passed. I have boys that want to hug me for being nice but I have to refuse them because they are boys and hormonal when I know at times that is exactly what they need. Keeping 30 to 40 students quiet for 100 minutes is no easy task. Especially when their final is essentially over unless they didn’t do it. What is the point of all of this? When can we expose these kids to nature and all the things that are truly meaningful? I could teach history outside. Spanish could be spoken while walking around the campus. They are caged animals.

    I am convinced that this particular generation is a generation of daycare brats. They have been fighting for attention since they were babies and they still are screaming out for it. All they want is someone to say their lives mean something. When I say it, I get to refuse a hug, which is what they lacked by being abandoned by their parents in daycare. When asked by a student why I teach, I simply say that I really enjoy it and I would not give up my time with my own kids!!!!!! I am raising them. I stayed at home with them until they went to school. I give them hugs when they need it and send them outside when they need it. I don’t always make them do their homework and I bring them to school late on days when I am able to spend time with them. I do not treat them like animals.

    We have treated our children like animals for to long and all of us are suffering the consequences and will be until we start appreciating the gift we have been given.

    I might make people mad by saying these things and all I can say to that is, the truth hurts.


  2. That was a good story Danielle, I understand your frustration, but probably never as much as you and Heather since you live it and I can only imagine it. However, from my experience with the teenage people at MBA, I recall they are not always easy to herd. Don’t envy you guys there!


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