Ever since my dad became a teacher, a new dawn of realization has been slowly settling around me.
If my dad can teach biology, which, let’s be honest, is not what he ever has had an interest in or learned excessively about, then doesn’t that make all these other teachers at my school just people?
This epiphany led me to realize that teachers don’t just shut down at their desks when everyone goes home and then restart for their first class. Teachers could actually be – now bear with me this may sound crazy – people who have whole lives outside of school.
Everything suddenly makes sense to me. Why it’s so weird when you see a teacher walking downtown or at a grocery store. Why it was always so weird to hear about the mythical family of the math teacher.
I determined that teachers don’t have to be such strange things anymore, that now students might actually have a chance of figuring out how best to handle them. After all, every student has a different approach to the teacher (a picky, temperamental creature), and they all work their magic well enough.
First there are the students who find that the best way to remain on a teacher's good side is to do what they ask, to give them what they want. These “Exacters”, named for their ability to deliver no more and no less than what is required, don’t respect or revere the teacher but only understand that this person has some incomparable power over their future.
In English class these students deliver papers void of all passion (oh I know I’m harping about impassionate school essays – it’s hurting me a lot more than it’s hurting you).
And yet they manage to cover exactly the right amount on their writing prompt. These students get A’s but take a much more stressful and dangerous route. For while they give the teacher exactly what he or she wants, they run the risk of becoming widely despised by the rest of their class (A.K.A. me – but that’s a whole other blog post).
The other students I have noticed would be the 300%. For while the Exacters deliver no more and no less than is asked of them, the 300% manages to double or triple the assigned work for themselves.
These are the ones who worship the teacher, who put them up on the pedestal. In chemistry class (can you tell I’m getting my examples from real life yet?) they are the ones who write full essays on the atomic emission spectra (did you see the casual reference?)
instead of the simple three sentenced definition (I find simple to be a loosely used term in chemistry class.). These are the students who ask questions about concepts with terms made by words I couldn’t of even guessed existed.
These are the students constantly challenging our teachers intelligence in their field of education. And it’s this, this endless barrage of complex questions, this seemingly obnoxious over achieving that earns them an A.
No doubt they deserve it, but they manage to receive an A, even while they are failing some aspects in class, because they are in the teachers' heads. They have developed a fixed position in the teachers psyche that establishes them forever as a smart kid, one who therefore deserves an A. These students aren’t necessarily the stereotypical nerd, they just provide excess in what their good at and this somehow leaks over into what they’re bad at.
Finally we have the group that I belong to. I declare us The Aloof. Now our numbers may be small, but our effectiveness is…honestly a little hazy.
While the Exacters try and stay out of the spotlight as much as the 300% try to stay in it, the Aloof are just that, aloof.
Indifferent to what the teacher thinks. I try to turn the tables on the teacher. Instead of me trying to get on the good side or bad side, I establish the fact that it doesn’t matter to me and find that it provokes some sort of subconscious interest.
This allows for a feeling of more equality. Call it hubris if you will, but I think that it actually makes them realize we aren’t just students but actual human beings who live outside of school. Blasphemy, I know. But when I tell my teacher I didn’t do the homework (which may or may not happen very extremely often) because I was doing my other homework and fell asleep, I find they are much more reasonable now that they know I exist.
There are probably other types of ways to handle teachers as well, plenty of subspecies and mutative branches of these big three, but these are the ones I’ve noticed the most.
None of them are bad or good, they all have the same goal – to attain that holy grail of all letters, the worshipped “A”.
I do think that these are all perfectly valid tactics because whether we like it or not, personal preference does bleed into our school systems (oh yeah, it’s about to get heavy).
The kids who talk more get graded harder; the ones who the teacher likes can get away with more. It seems that every time we get a test back two kids are comparing and they can’t figure out why one of them got marked down a point for writing the same answer.
Sure it can be fixed when the teacher's confronted with it and it’s easily written off as a mistake but there’s no mistaking the bias that some teachers have. It adds a whole other obstacle for us as students to hurtle over in the already challenging course of high school. The thing is I can’t think of a solution for personal preference, can you?
Tell me about what you think could be done or experiences you’ve had in the comments.