Current Mood: Offended, Annoyed, Disappointed…Not Surprised

That awkward moment when after a few weeks of tutoring, your student produces such an improved quality of work that the teacher at school accuses her of plagiarism, and accuses me of doing her work for her and teaching her the wrong information.

Hold on, let me take a second to forcibly and un-enthusiastically LOL at this before I blow a fuse… #notamused


Honestly, when I heard this at first I was pretty much unaffected by it. My first thoughts were, “haters gonna hate”, “I’m doing a good job, look at the work she produced!”, “if only this teacher knew I was guiding this student directly from instructions that he gave…in writing”. But as it lingered in my mind (as do most comments made with such distaste) I started wondering what message this teacher was sending to my student. I dived right into the “wait what?” phase:

  • Is it more acceptable for her to produce consistently poor work than it is for her to improve over time?
  • Are the only reasons for her improving those of the mal-adaptive or delinquent nature?
  • Is my student simply not smart enough or not showing enough promise for her improvements to be seen as valid?

I then looked back at the work she produced and wondered if indeed I had inadvertently influenced her work. I moved right onto the “self-doubt” phase (oh goody):

  • Did I steer her in the direction I wanted her to go in rather than what she communicated to me?
  • Did I force her to write things that I would write, instead of use her own words and phrases?
  • I wonder if she felt pressured when I was teaching…
  • Am I as the extra-lessons tutor so inept that my student must resort to copying her work off Wikipedia – by the way Mr. Teacher, you know what this means you’ve failed too, right?

Shake it off Hannah, you know that’s not you…I know how much you love to blame yourself, but it’s time to mosey on to the“think-straight” phase:

You know you spent hours preparing slideshows, scouring the web for videos, pictures, fun revision exercises – anything that would make the work less laborious. You know that she produced this work on her own. You literally saw her type it up. I mean look at the draft she submitted, there are still errors in grammar and formatting in this work…If you wanted to do her work for her, do you really think you could submit work that used they’re instead of their!? #grammarnazi The most you did was give her the time to understand the concepts she was writing about, these are her thoughts, her words, her phrasing…You did nothing wrong.

Now that that’s cleared up I’m so ready for the “hulk smash” phase:

Imagine that you’re a student, you just worked for two weeks on a document, submitted it and feeling good. For the first time, you understand concepts, you feel confident in what you’re writing, you’re not just regurgitating information but you’re thinking and reasoning and creating. The time comes for you to get back remarks from your teacher and what do you hear?

“Who told you do to this?”

— but Sir, you said to —

“Who did you get to do your work?”

..well I have a private tutor who —

“Where did you get this from?”

Sir your instructions are in my book, but —

“Do it over, this is not your work”

What is my student to do. You’ve just broken her spirit by firstly implying that she isn’t capable of doing such work and secondly, limiting any chance for conversation. There was no chance for her to explain her process or how she got to the point of producing the draft.

There is a misconception that education and learning must be done in silo, it cannot be shared, it cannot be collaborative, and it definitely (according to this teacher) cannot be improved on by certain students labelled as “slow”, “problematic” or “different”. But let me bring something to your attention, Mr. Teacher – I one of those slow, problematic and different students. I, just like my student, had difficulty with seemingly simple academic tasks. I too was put into a box and tagged with a label that said who I was at present, who my future self would be, and what potential I had and would generate. Each and every one of these were wrong.

I don’t really have a positive message to share today unfortunately…I don’t feel like being reasonable or optimistic. I understand that teachers may become disenchanted at times, I understand that some student’s are a little more difficult to deal with than others – trust me, I’m a remedial education tutor…What I cannot excuse is taking out your frustrations on a student that is showing obvious signs of improvement – genuine improvement. Not what was implied to be a product of cheating.

I’m deeply saddened by this. Offended, Annoyed, Disappointed…but Not Surprised. Why? because I’ve experience the exact same thing throughout my schooling. I did not fit the mold of the ideal student and spent a very long time feeling like I’d never get far in life because of it. Keep in mind that you’re speaking to a university graduate, a holder of a double major degree with first class honors, a valedictorian, a Harvard University admit, a founder of a private tutoring business and remedial education service, a visionary, a creator, a dreamer…a person.

Who know’s what spark you ousted in my student, who knows what insecurities have surfaced because of your rash conclusions. Then again, maybe she deserved it. After all she committed the most unspeakable crime known to man – she dared to rip off the label, she tiptoed outside the bounds of what was expected of her…she shattered the stereotype that you placed on her. Nothing is more deserving of ridicule than that…right?

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