Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hometown Memories: The Teacher Who Went On Strike

I went to a pretty tough high school where there were many bad apples, and these bad apples were just as unruly in the class as they were out of it. They disrupted lessons. Made trouble. Created chaos. And made many a teacher’s life miserable.
At my high school graduation ceremony.

Despite that, most teachers managed to get the job done. Save for a few who completely lost control of their classrooms. Completely. I had such a teacher in tenth grade French. His class had spun out of control, and had turned into a party room.

After a few weeks of total chaos, this teacher shut his instruction manual and declared “I’m not teaching again until you are interested in learning.” Every day after that, he’d read a book at his desk until class was over; then he’d grab his stuff and leave.

At first it was funny, and the partying continued. But as the weeks went by, everyone started getting nervous. And quieter. Why? Because the class he was teaching was compulsory. In order to obtain our high school diploma in the future, we needed to pass it. No matter how long it took. OOPS...

Well, needless to say that eventually he was asked to “Please start teaching again. We’ll be quiet.” And he did.

It turned out to be the most disciplined and academically-inclined class I’d ever been in, taught by one of the most respected teachers from that day forward.

Have you ever had a teacher go on strike? Or something similar?

31 comments:

  1. Sounds like a smart teacher! Glad everything worked out for him and the class!

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    1. He was great. This move got the class back on track, and we actually learned something!

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  2. I have never experienced that, wow. Glad it worked out. Nice grad photo.

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    1. First time for me, Christine! Good thing it worked out well.

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  3. Now THAT'S a great teacher. And weren't you a cute grad!

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    1. Yup, he was definitely a great teacher. Very smart.

      Notice the bleach blonde hair? And the frizzy perm? Ah, the 80s...

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  4. Proof that the quiet treatment works.

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  5. We had a teacher that didn't say go on strike, but just didn't care. It was tenth grade biology, so we played on the computer for most of the time.

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    1. Sounds awful. At least our teacher did care, and that's why he attempted this.

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  6. I did! I was so fed up one day, because the kiddos would not settle down after recess, that I pulled out a jigsaw puzzle and began putting it together on my reading table (didn't dare disappear into a book with 7 and 8 year olds unmonitored!). I also discretely wrote down the time.

    They were shocked and started whispering their disbelief. It wasn't long before you could hear a pin drop. Finally, some kid spoke up and said they were all ready to listen.

    I checked the time and said we'd make up that 12 or so minutes we had lost during our extra recess time the next day, because classroom time was too valuable to waste on silliness. Unlike most teachers, I added an extra small recess in almost daily when our recess for the entire day (including at lunchtime) was effectively cut to 20 minutes!

    End of problem! :)

    You look so cute at your graduation! Have a good one!

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    1. What a great story, Louise! Good for you. That certainly got their attention. We were much older, so our teacher could just concentrate on his book and ignore us. Unlike your class, it took much longer for ours to settle down...you know willful teenagers... But things finally quieted down, and our teacher could do his job. Took awhile to catch up on the lessons we'd lost, but eventually we did just that.

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  7. funny we're both mentionning Montreal today, you're even more beautiful now, 'cause it's the whole package ,not just the good looks. No never a rebel teacher, but one who taught us during a project i mentionned before where 4 years were incorporated into 2 it was a project and we were the first ones, and we all succeeded and she was the sweetest, most wonderful teacher that ever existed...But I'm glad you had that kind of teacher, he rocked....what a neat story Martha, love it

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    1. Some teachers just stand out, Lorraine! I remember a few from my school days very clearly. They were quite exceptional.

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  8. actually no, Montreal was yesterday lol

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    1. Doesn't matter, Lorraine! I visit all your blog posts, so eventually it all comes together.

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  9. It helps us all to have a creative, inspiring teacher. You look great getting your diploma on that stage. It is obviously a happy time.

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    1. Thanks. It was definitely a very happy time.

      This teacher found a solution to his problem! Thank goodness, or we would have failed the course.

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  10. I love that story. Very cool and good on him.

    We had an English teacher who stood up to the coach and school. She would not pass the footballer until he got his ass in the chair and did the work.

    The school was not happy, but she stuck to her guns. Good on her.

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    1. Great story! I love that she did that. Kids shouldn't pass without having done the work.

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    2. Yeah, she didn't give two bananas that the kid played football.

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  11. What a good lesson to learn, Martha! He was one good teacher and very brave to let it go on for so long.
    This was one of the reasons I never wanted (or had) a 'regular' classroom in my 30 years of teaching......too many students to deal with and way too many possibilities of chaos to erupt!! Teachers are so underpaid for what they do on a daily basis and the huge responsibility they have for each students well-being.

    I never had a teacher like this mainly because when I was in school in the 50's and 60's if you didn't do what was expected then you were gone.......it worked.

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    1. Things were so much different back then, Jim. You actually had to work to move forward. And failing a grade was not unheard of. It's a tough job being a teacher, and the ones in my high school really earned their pay!

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  12. That is one brave teacher! I wonder how many times he was afraid he had made a big mistake? Good for him!

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    1. He certainly took a calculated risk. But even if it hadn't worked, we still would have failed the course because the class was not paying attention.

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  13. Oh yes, those days of yore when you would try to goad the teacher and laugh at them. We had one teacher who for some reason we all called Squid. Oh I don't know where it came from but when she found out we were more embarrassed than she was humiliated. Wouldn't you know it almost 10 years later just after Jim and I met we moved into an "adult" apartment building in my town on the 3rd floor overlooking a beautiful fielded area. One day I was looking over the balcony at the view and I happened to look downwards to the 2nd floor level and lo and behold who was living below me none other than Squid, but by this time I called her by her appropriate grown up name.

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    1. What a fun story! Squid... Of all names. Well, I suppose it could have been worse! If you'd been in my high school, you would have heard some interesting names. Oh, those poor teachers...

      And what are the chances you'd end up in the same apartment building years later? I bet she was just as surprised to see you as you were to see her!

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  14. Wow, that was brilliant. I wonder if he'd be allowed to do that nowadays.

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    1. Probably not! It would go be all over the internet, and he'd be criticized.

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  15. kufreakingdos to your French teacher! outstanding! …. ought to have a movie made about him!

    ain't you cute as a little ol high school senior!

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    1. It really paid off for him, Carolyn. And for all of us! The class finally learned.

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