Friday, March 19, 2010


Today was the last day of the trimester. To celebrate, we had an all-school awards assembly where teachers dished out awards for hard working students who actually do what they are supposed to do (i.e. get their shit done). I didn't realize this at first, but I felt a bit awkward coming up to the microphone and calling out kids' names. I imagine most of my students who didn't get awards felt betrayed or sad. They probably thought I was picking favorites and they weren't one of them. I tried not to make eye contact. As I muttered the words into the microphone, I asked myself, "Wait, why didn't I give an award to so-and-so?"

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), I can easily forget frustration and pain. I remember "the good times" really well, but my memory grows hazy when I try to recall something painful. Hence, I felt bad yesterday as I submitted some of the final trimester grades for my students. I had to try really hard to remember what the fuck these kids did (or didn't do) to deserve a 55%.
"I'm the teacher. Me. Not them. Me. I'm Yo Mista."
I keep forgetting I'm the teacher sometimes. I'm not here to please, I'm here to impart knowledge. I may be funny (and sexy), but that's just an added bonus. It's tough because some students think I'm "cool" (or so I'm told) and simultaneously look up to me. What do I do with this information? I felt terrible today when students who I knew failed my class (some miserably) kept coming up to me with sad puppy eyes:
"Did you pass me Mista? I came yesterday to take your test, otherwise I wasn't comin' at all!"
I'm not that stupid though. I forget that as a teenager, I used to do whatever I could to ace my classes (this includes doing extra work, being nice, going out of my way to help out, etc.) Of course, I didn't need to do those things given I actually wanted to learn, but you know, just in case. Plus, if I've worked my ass off for the first half of the class, why not slack off a bit at the end and take advantage of my good standing? This is all part of being a good (and smart) student...

This strategy should hypothetically only work if you have put in a good amount of effort. I refuse to let sad puppy eyes come in the way of a student's grade if they've done jack shit all year. I'm sorry, but just showing up isn't good enough. Not showing up is even worse, so don't try to win me over on the last day by smiling, batting your eyes and playing all nice. You can't bullshit the bullshitter.


Alpha Za said...

Well Said Man.

I wonder if all teachers think like that...

Give students an inch, and they'll take a mile and it actually's not their fault. The problem is the teachers who the puppy dog eyes do work on, the ones who grade out of sentiment and 'I'm passing you so you become someone elses problem next year'.

Good On You.

A Black Butterfly Gets Her Wings said...

Yo Mista,

You are the truth.

Mr. and Miss When you are really a teacher, you don't have a last name. said...


Stop expressing my feelings better than I myself am able to.

I thought you were a mathemetician. (how to spell that?)

You can't be organized, AND eloquent.

This Blog should be called "R.S."

Yo Mista said...

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate your continued readership and comments! Keep them coming!

Naqiya said...

@ mr. and miss - whats R.S.?

Mr. and Miss When you are really a teacher, you don't have a last name. said...

@ N- I thought you'd never ask.

Not B.S.

reallllll sheeeet.

Mr. T said...

Dear Mista (and Alpha),

Oh yes, other teachers do feel this way and this happens everywhere!

I have students whose attendance is in the low 50%, these students came every single day for the week before Parent/Teacher conferences! So I felt like a shit having to tell the parents that their kids weren't coming; I wanted to believe that they changed and are going to start coming, i did not want to ruin that by getting them into trouble... thank god i realized my mistake BEFORE I spoke with the parents! Sneaky fucking... I hearkened to my days as a student and realized their game.
It's a fine line between benefit of the doubt and knee deep in B.S.
I don't always know how to walk it, i'm glad you do though!

Laila said...

@yo mista

All I can say is - did you just call yourself sexy? Don't think I did not notice that! It's funny because as soon as I read that I started singing "I'm too sexy for my shirt" and now that dumb song is stuck in my head. So thanks a lot! :P

also good reference to Role Models in the end. I loved that movie especially that guidance counselor woman!

On another note its really commendable that you managed to get through this day without feeling too terrible. Like you said you're the teacher and you have to make these decisions impartially no matter how many students flutter eyelashes (or flash you), or try flattering you. If you do the work, you'll get rewarded. And if you don't.....well then I guess McDonalds it is. But yes way to hold out. I know I for one would be really bad in situations like these. I get way too easily persuaded when I think someone is feeling bad, and would have probably spent the whole day being sad about something like this. So good going!

ps: having done my fair share of batting eyelashes, giggling and using persuasion tactics, all I can say is good thing I never had you as a teacher!

Naqiya said...


hahaha so true! and dont forget the teachers assistants like niaz!! if only things like that worked at work...

Yo Mista said...

@ Laila:

Yes, Roles Models was quite an amazing movie...

I don't know what you're talking about (batting eyelashes, giggling and using persuasion tactics).

BTW - can you fix my computer? Have I ever asked you for anything?

Naqiya said...

yo stop being mean!