Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I Need Help (advice, not mentally)

When talking to a person with a lazy eye, what is the correct etiquette on where to look?

(1) The good eye?
(2) Both eyes?
(3) The ground?
(4) Her boobs?/His crotch?

When someone you know is acting completely insane, do you

(1) Ignore it?
(2) Tell him/her?
(3) Mimic her/him?
(4) Touch her boobs/his crotch?

If you have a student trying to make inappropriate vacation plans with you, should you

(1) Stop talking to her
(2) Tell him you aren't gay
(3) Tell her you ARE gay
(4) Touch her boobs/his crotch on the way to the airport?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

More Proof That God Loves Me -- Volume XXVI

As a teacher, it isn't the great ones. It's the worst ones that make you think about your career. Little Johnny that you worked and worked with until he passes your class, he's great and all, but little Johnny doesn't keep you up at night.

It's the little bitches that you think and think about. They make you question your teaching ability and whether you have chosen the correct life path or not. They also make you wonder: How much chalk CAN fit in someone's ass?

Sadly for these people, we don't use chalk anymore. We use nontoxic, dry erase markers. MMmmm, girthy.

A few weeks ago was night one of my "How to Teach Grammar in the ESL Classroom" class. This is part of a certificate program where all the students in the class already have bachelor degrees and presumably a sense of decorum. I have taught this class once before, and I realize people are more than a little bit apprehensive talking about the correct use of the future perfect progressive. Who wouldn't be? That's a mouthful. Just like that nontoxic marker.


Although I, for personal reasons, refuse to use the real name of people I blast in my blog, believe me: the name of the person this blog is about is absolutely perfect. Like a prophecy from God himself, this person who I am about to describe has one of the best monikers for annoyance I have ever encountered. For now, though, we shall call her F.A.W. I will let you figure it out.

Annoyance #1:

I am about five minutes into the class. I am giving my spiel about who I am, what I have I done, what the class is about, etc. At this point, again FIVE MINUTES into class, FAW raises her hand.

Weird. People have questions about my educational history?

FAW: Mark. In your opinion...what is better to get...a Masters in TESOL or in Applied Linguistics.

Me: (That's a little off topic)...Ummm...well, what's your goal with your education?

FAW: To get a job teaching, duh.

Me: (Duh????) Well...

FAW: I only ask because I think this might be useful information for EVERYONE.

Me: (How selfless of her. Looking out for everyone like that) I would assume that an MA in TESOL would have more practical application, while Applied Linguistics would be more research oriented...but that is my answer without knowing much about MAs in Applied Linguistics.

FAW: Well...WHY do you think that?

ME: (I answered your fucking question, bitch) Like I told you...that is my opinion based off what I know.

FAW: SIGH...ok.

That was in the first five minutes. She got worse.

Annoyance #2

Later in the class, I had them doing some pair work, looking at some boring linguistic shit I wont go into here. Anyway, while everyone else in the class is diligently working, I get called over to FAW who is completely befuddled by these intense, first-day questions I have lain on her (and yes, that is the correct use of "lain").

The annoying thing about FAW is that I would answer her question, she would listen, and then ask the SAME exact question again, as if everything I said was a waste of her fucking time. I tried rephrasing my responses, and in a VERY nice way told her she simply wasn't answering the questions that were on the sheet. What FAW was doing was answering with info she had previously learned, even if her answers were off topic.

For example, if the questions were 5 - 2 = ???

She would keep asking: Mark, I don't understand. 2 + 2 = 4, doesn't it?

While that is a statement of fact, and relatively on the same topic...we weren't fucking talking about 2 + fucking 2. matter if I helped her with HER question...or the REAL questions...she would just keep saying 2 + 2 = 4, doesn't it?

After a good five minutes of this (answering and re-answering her same question again and again), I interrupted her:

FAW, I am answering your question. I want you to listen to me. Listen to what I am saying. First of all, you are not answering the question on the sheet, which is fine, but the answer to that is _____. Second of all, I am directly and completely answering the question you have asked me...listen, just for a second, to what I am saying: ______.

She stops. Listens. And then asks the same question again. I fucking hated her.

Annoyance #3

Although she did a number of more annoying things, including being very confusing about if she would like me to call her by her first or last name, and asking me whether her questions (that kept interrupting the class) should be kept until office hours (ya think?), I am going to get to the grand daddy of them all.

This class is from 6:30 to 9:30 at night. By about 9:15, I'm tired. The class is tired. I have been teaching off and on for 12 hours.

Near the end of the class, I am talking about the To Be verb, and write the following on the board:

I am playing <-- present perfect

I don't notice that I have done this. FAW sure did. At the end of class, she comes up and says the following:

FAW: Mark. I didn't want to say anything in front of the other students...but I want you to look at the board and see if you see any mistakes.

Me: (Looking at the board) Hmmm...yeah, that should say "progressive" and not "perfect"

FAW: I didn't want to embarrass you in front of anyone or confuse them.

ME: (SIGH) FAW, in the future, if I do something like that, please say something. It is a simple mistake...not a big deal at all.

FAW: Also, Mark, I don't want to tattle, but I don't think my partner should be in this class. I think she should be in ESL...this class is too high for her.

ME: (WOW) Well, that is up to her. I guess we will find out if she shows up next week what her decision is.

FAW: But if she doesn't show up next week, you will drop her.

ME: What?

FAW: Yeah. In my other TESOL program, if you missed 30 minutes of one class, you were out.

ME: Well, FAW, people get sick or have is ok to miss class if you need to. Of course, I want people to come to every class, but things happen.

FAW: That is some good information to know.

Anyway, I thought and thought about this chick ALL week. I dreaded seeing her...she really disrupted the class, the flow, and she was just a PILL.

But you know why God loves me. And he so does. He showed me what things COULD be like...but then rewarded me. Only one person dropped from week one. FAW did.

And I'm glad....except I bought a bunch of markers for her.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Life is a Fragile Thing

For the second time in my life, I got to call people to tell them about a serious accident that happened to a loved one. What is one supposed to say when leaving messages about a father in need:

Hi, I hope I have the right number, but your dad is in ICU.

To the point, but pointless.

My roommate went to the emergency room the other night, and he is presently still there. I don't know what's wrong with him, but I have now spoken to his closest family members more than I have spoken to him in the past six months. He is such a nice guy, but I honestly don't know anything about him.

I don't know his medical history.
I don't know any medication he is on.
I don't know where his family lives.
I don't know where his wallet is.
I don't know where his cell phone is.

I don't know these things at 2:00 AM when questioned by paramedics.

I don't know them at 12:00 noon the next day when trying to sort his life out for him.

Calling into his work to let them know why he isn't there. Finally finding an old cell phone and piecemealing the small tidbits I know about his life together to find a relative.

I didn't like doing this when it involved my dad. I didn't like doing this when it involved my roommate.

Life is a fragile thing. And I just don't like talking about it.