Wednesday, June 8, 2011

To Quote My Grandmother: "Why are teenager's so stupid?"

As my recent post indicated, I teach seniors in high school. It is 8 days until graduation. I no longer stand in front of a room extemporizing on the beauty and relevance of literature and rhetoric while 40 pairs of wide, shining eyes gaze up at me, eagerly hanging on my every word. No more hands shoot into the air as students cry, "Pick me, Ms. Vance. Pick me!" No more do I hear the phrases, "That poem was awesome!", "This novel changed my life," or "I am learning so much in here."

Because you know that shit happens every day in my classes.

Regardless, right now, I am just trying to stay alive. My most conscientious seniors won't do anything--except ask me 1000 questions about graduation procedures even though I have ZERO to do with coordinating the ceremony. But, I am bombarded with calls from counselors and parents concerning failing seniors, wanting final grades even though finals weeks isn't even here yet; juniors who just now decided to ask me about making up that test from February; papers that I've procrastinated grading; one principal telling me to teach until the bitter end while another one tells me to turn in my textbooks, NOW!

To quote a colleague: "My brain is hammered right now."

Still, I am trying to maintain some fraction of decorum. I still enforce showing up on time, I refuse to take any late work, I've assigned each class a "project" to keep them busy (which we all know I probably won't grade) and I have not shown a single movie!


But I am losing my grip, finger by finger.

Thank God teenagers can be so stupid--it is keeping me entertained.

One of my senior classes took a final today on the novel Frankenstein. Multiple choice. Fifty questions.
After writing question #49, my brain just died. Fizzled out. Shut down.

Shouldn't have done all those drugs in high school.

So, I tacked on this question to the end of the test:

50. Ms. Vance is all EXCEPT:
            A. Brilliant
            B. Beautiful
            C. A man
            D. Funny
            E. The ruler of classroom R102

Out of 38 students 35 answered C, 2 answered B, and 1 answered A.

Two students think I am an ugly man; one student thinks I am a stupid man.


I pondered not changing their answers on the scantron and making them take the one-point hit on their grade. Yes, I found the error (or prank) hilarious, but what I found even more funny was the fact that they forgot to take into consideration the fact that I HAVE TO MAKE AN ANSWER KEY.  Instead, I changed their answers and then sent an email to the entire staff at my school about the incident (leaving the students' names out, of course), but the aid that is in my room during that class called me immediately to asked which students, so I told her and let the power of rumor do its work.

I don't just open a can of worms; I open a vat of worms. My inbox blew up with not only sarcastic retorts, but also affirmations that I was pretty and that I was smart and that people liked me dammit! I oscillated between laughing and saying "ahhhhh" for the rest of the day. I think my favorite was the phone call from one of my colleagues, who has also been a good friend for the fourteen years I've taught, asking, "Is the stupid, ugly man who rules R102 available?"

I should have said, "No, because he's with your wife," but I was too busy laughing.

By the following day, rumor had done its work. The three confused students (or pranksters) rolled into class wailing with excuses and apologies for their error while I feigned offense for all about 5 minutes. They claimed that they though they were marking what I was, not what I wasn't.

I love adolescent back-peddling.

But, when the Assistant Principal popped into my class to discuss the importance of graduation and how it represents all that they've accomplished, he jerked a thumb at me and added, "I mean, you've had to put up with this ugly, stupid guy all year."

The class exploded in laughter.

Bravo, sir. Bravo.


  1. Your posts always crack me up. :)

    If only I had had an English teacher like you in high school. Sigh. Your students are lucky you're so kick ass.

    And you had to expect SOME students to mess around with you on that question, lol.

    I'm sorry about all the stress you're dealing with regarding your students graduating and whatnot. Sounds like a hassle! But at least you get a summer vacay, right? Or do they make teachers work all summer?!

  2. Maybe they thought you meant "The man." Which you totally are.


Please validate my existence.