Just Let Them Go and F— Themselves – A Rant On Being A Teacher

This is my first long rant. I’m sorry to offend some readers but I have to get this off my chest.This is for all the under-appreciated teachers out there.

I got pissed off at my students today.

During class, we did an improv game called Lines game where players read a line they’ve never seen before and incorporate it into their scene. My students having never done this before, I gave them time to practice among their groups for 5 minutes. Then I went around facilitating and checking up on their progress.

Unlike my other classes who were always on task, this group apparently felt it was a total waste of their time. Some slept. Some decided to engage in a conversation involving the latest episode of a Korean soap. The others fooled around.

“Why aren’t you practicing?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“What’re you doing?”

“We’ll get right to it.”

I felt I was the butt of a joke, a pathetic loser, a discarded doll dumped unceremoniously in the middle of the road. All my efforts were in vain. I had spent 3 hours coming up with 92 lines for this activity that had to be funny, easy and at the same time flexible enough to make into a dialogue (which even for me was a stretch) and another hour cutting them and folding them into separate sheets. I sacrificed a weekend and my writing goals for these kids because I wanted them to learn and enjoy themselves in class. If I wanted to be a lazy ass, I would’ve either let them read and answer the textbook or watch a movie. To hell with the learning strategies and student interaction!

So I exploded and they definitely noticed it. They shut up and proceeded to work only because I was already hurling rapid fire insults at them which I’ve never ever done before.

This is one of the ultimate downers of being a teacher. Your heart is in the right place. You work hard for these kids because you want to help them. You give them your blood, sweat and tears and what do you get in return? A jeering laugh. Loud snoring. Handouts you’ve painstakingly researched, compiled and designed to be easy to read crumbled and slam dunked into the wastebasket. A chorus of sighs and complaints that they were up all night playing computer games and getting drunk greeted you the minute you opened your mouth to start the three hour lesson you’ve spent 6 hours brainstorming and researching for, honing and streamlining it into a thematic flow, that complemented one of the language theories and at the same time was still based on the lessons of their textbooks. A lesson you spent another 6-8 hours making your own instructional materials, exercises suited to their level and a powerpoint presentation that’s both informative yet entertaining. Then they echoed mocking remarks when you pointed out some mistakes they made in their essays –essays you’ve meticulously marked for another 6 hours, all 127 of them and make corrections and even left some personal comments for them on which areas they need to improve on. Essays that gave you this massive headache because of their incoherent sentence structures, incessant ramblings that absolutely made no sense, chockfull of god-awful grammar and spelling mistakes that after you’re through with them, you have no idea what’s good English anymore, instructions that weren’t followed even though you repeated it hundreds of times and even wrote them in bold letters on the whiteboard but because they were too busy sleeping, talking or even touching up on their lipstick the “vital information” somehow slipped past them and now they’re complaining of a big fat ZERO they received on their 100 words single spaced work that’s full of typos and grammar errors that it showed it was clearly done in the last minute. And at the end of it all, those essays you’ve marked your ass off will still end up as tight little round balls in the trash.

Worse, there are organizations that back up these kinds of students. They don’t absolutely look after the welfare and quality of work these students are producing because they’re too concerned for the 5 figure paycheck they will receive from the parents’ pockets at the end of the year. Forget about becoming a shining beacon to guide the lost youth. Education has become nothing but a business.

Through all of these, I sometimes stop and ask myself, “What the hell am I here for?”

So don’t be surprised your teachers just skim over your reports now. Why they just merely open a book and drone on and on. The truth is they’ve been so hurt and rejected in the past by so many students that why even bother? You tried to warn Mary not to skip class and see that asshole Jimmy yet she did it anyway. Six months later Mary is showing a swelling belly and has dropped out of school. The next year you tell Johnny to quit hanging out with those shady bunch of kids from the other school. The next thing you know Johnny is in jail for drugs. You know you tried your best. You really went out on a limb for them and the same shit still happens year after year. Let them go. Let them go. Nothing you’ll do or say will make a difference anyway. Let them go and fuck themselves up and the world.

And you know, if you’ve got a teacher who’s unbelievably awesome, smart and really cares for your well-being, consider yourself blessed. He/she hasn’t been touched by disillusionment and hasn’t turned rotten to the core yet. Appreciate him/her for all the efforts he/she has given or I will personally go and hit you on the head for not doing so. Remember he/she is doing this for you. And if I were you, I’d go up to his/her desk and say the two simple words that would make a world of difference.

“Thank you.”

I’m not saying you should share this but if you’re suffering a massive guilt trip right now at having that hangover then I suggest you do the same to some other poor soul:

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29 thoughts on “Just Let Them Go and F— Themselves – A Rant On Being A Teacher

  1. matthewdryden says:

    When I was younger, I gave my teachers a hard time….but when I look back, I really appreciate what they did for me. And when I see kids today bitching about their teachers, I want to smack them silly because they just don’t know.

    But they’ll figure it out soon enough. I think they’re quiet about it – but felt guilty. I remember my teachers, especially the ones who really seemed like they gave a damn. The ones who really gave it their all.

    • Kate says:

      @ Mathew: I’d like you to smack my students silly.

      Perhaps they do feel guilty and keep quiet about it, letting all that guilt seep inside. I wish they can just relieve that guilt with a simple “sorry’.

      Hey Bev,

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting! Much appreciated.

      That’s right. I hope I can get that award from you if I ever drop by
      Montana. 😀

      Enjoy the Paramore concert and Twilight!

  2. Amanda says:

    You have to teach adults.

    I get thanks, cards, gifts and lots and lots of chocolate, and they’ll do even the silliest activities I plant with a smile. Come down to Perth, my school needs teachers!!

  3. Kool Aid says:

    Or you could teach elementary students.

    Seriously, though, I have teachers in my family and I personally just don’t have the patience. I’ve been lucky – I’ve only had one bad teacher that I can recall (the others were either great or average, and I remember most of them, too). She told me once that “I wasn’t good enough for Advanced English” and unfortunately, I believed her. Luckily, the next year, my regular English teacher encouraged me to take AP English instead and I did great.

    Keep up the good work. You know deep down what you’re doing is important. Even if THEY don’t know it yet.

    BTW- you have a comment on your guest post 🙂

    • Kate says:

      @ Amanda: Aaaww!! Thanks for the invitation to Perth! Might take you up on that.

      I used to teach adults and quite fun. The motivation is all there and you do get free dinners, the occasional capuccino at Starbucks and a roaring birthday party! Your efforts are all also mostly appreciated.

      Unlike teens, they’re basically forced and the money doesn’t come from their own pocket so it’s hard to motivate them. Some of them have been really sweet though at times. I’ve received a couple of letters/emails. It’s just frustrating sometimes for those who don’t simply care.

      @ Kool Aid: Elementary students? Ack! I’ve been there and yes, they can also be sweet, charming and huggable to the point that you can’t move because they’re all clinging to you. I found it more stressful because there’s more brainstorming since kids’ attention spans are lower than adults, more material making involved (less research though. LOL. I cannot go wrong with the BINGO song) and in the end I just collapsed from too much running and

      Funny that you should mention patience. I’m very patient with my students but not with waiting for those editors. I’ve got to have more practice in that area. Don’t listen to those bad teachers who pull you down (that’s why they’re bad). I’m glad you only had one. I’ve got a few and some awesome ones that left a deep impact on me.

      I’m going to keep in mind what you just said. Deep down I know I’m doing the right thing. They’ll thank me later. 🙂

      Heading over to your blog now!

  4. Sherxr says:

    Indeed good teachers like you are hard to come by. I really appreciated my teachers who showed a little more concern about me. I would study harder to make that teacher happy. 🙂
    Of course, I got loads of teachers who were just there to earn a stable income. Making fun of my name was one of their favourite game. Sighs..
    Never give up. One day even if it’s just one student who appreciate you, you will find this whole experience really rewarding!
    Keep up the good work! 🙂

    • Kate says:

      Hey Sherxr,

      Just today I couldn’t resist tweaking a student’s paper. I know it’s
      probably impractical spending 5 minutes on one when there’s more waiting but
      I think the kid’s got the potential to grow as a writer and I don’t want to
      discourage him. I’m just a big softie I guess.

      I don’t know how they can make fun of your name. Might have something to do
      with the Hokkien language in Singapore?

      If I could look back and saw how I changed one’s student’s life for the
      better, I’d be really happy.

      Swamped with midterm marking and musical teacher performance this week!

  5. johnlazy says:

    Ma’am kate wow that was a rage! You can’t really teach students by being angry, I know it happens especially when you’re frustrated. But try to control yourself ma’am. I remember all great teachers are those who understand more than those who vocal more. I know ma’am you’re a great teacher but learn to take the matter calmly and exlplain to them in a serenely manner i now they will appreciate it more. Thanks! Take care ma’am

  6. Ali says:

    haha! I definitely feel you on this one. I’m teaching in Thailand and my students are pretty good, but I still feel so frustrated sometimes, and your post was a release for me just reading it!

    • Kate says:

      @ Johnlazy: Don’t worry. I get angry only once in a year with my students.
      I’m just very strict with them now. They just need a big bop in the head or
      else they’ll take you for granted.

      @ Ali: Thanks for dropping by! I’m glad this post made your day and took the
      stress out of explaining stuff to students countless times. . 😉 Drop by
      often. I’d like to hear others’ thoughts on the teaching life. I got a
      friend who once worked in Thailand. Said it was a total eye opener!

  7. yongjj says:

    My suggestion is:
    Engage your students with singing activities cause since they like Korean soap drama or any entertainment news.

    Dedicated teachers should be categorized as unsung heroes.

    Keep teaching Kate.

    • Kate says:

      Hey Yongji,

      Thanks for dropping by! Unfortunately, I’m shackled by the syllabus. I’d love to teach them singing (though I’m off key), Korean soap or any entertainment stuff that’ll get their attention but in the end they’ve got to pass their final exams which is based on the boring book that they have.

      I can’t do anything against the school system. Another outcome might also be that students would complain that all they ever learned from class was singing and playing games and they didn’t learn anything of value that’ll prepare them for their major courses which are all taught in English.

      Students are so wishy washy. Last year they complained that they got too much homework. I eased up on that and gave them homework every other week which I thought was fair. Now they’re complaining that they don’t get enough homework.

      You can’t please everyone. :l

      Teachers are indeed the unsung heroes. The great underdogs that nobody knows about. You don’t see teachers getting the front covers of popular magazines or have the top spot in a television show.

      Yet they’re all around us, keeping quiet, doing their best because face it, we’re such suckers and softies. I’ll keep teaching Yongji whether it be in another medium, a different set of students, I think my heart will always be there. Always.

  8. jjyong says:

    It’s difficult in the beginning as you need to handle such brats in school. You gotta think of something before it getting worse over period of time. I agreed that you couldn’t please anyone.

    Well, you can try to join their conversation. I know it might sound extreme. For example, use Korean actors and actresses or any famous characters while describing your sentences or points.

    What I did was this – trying to be yourself and of course, understand their situation at class. Change the game if you found these students couldn’t get along with it.

    Play Win-lose-or-draw games. Or ask them to draw on the board. Some students just hate writings.

    That’s just my humble opinion. Thanks.

  9. Melissa Donovan says:

    Ah, there was a time I gave serious consideration to becoming a teacher. I love helping others learn new things but dealing with a whole classroom full of kids definitely was beyond my capabilities. I admire teachers for all they put up with, especially ones that spend three long hours trying to make class fun, interesting, and educational 🙂

  10. Kate says:

    @ jjyong: Those are great tips! I might have to research on some popular Korean and Taiwanese soaps to relate to them. The famous F4 never fails to get their interests though (I believe they were a huge hit over there at Singapore, right?). I also try to included the students as much as I can in making sentence examples and put them in funny situations.

    They also love being competitive but they’re not good at drawing. But it’ll be a fun activity, I bet in class. You must have fun lessons with your students jj.

    @ Melissa: I never thought I could deal with a classroom full of kids too till I tried. It’s challenging! You have to get their attention and at the same time make sure they’re learning something of value as well. You’re like an actor on stage 24/7.

  11. Vienna says:

    Thank for dropping by :-).

    Had a great ttime reading some of your posts. I have to say, you really write well.

    Happy teaching in China and if ever you decide to visit Shanghai, buzz me so we can meet. 😀

  12. Vienna says:

    🙂 glad to hear that but i can’t write as well as you do though.

    i will bookmark you page now so i can easily visit it some other time.

    one last question, are you from the Philippines?

  13. Kate says:

    100% tunay na tunay Filipina! 🙂 Remember, your proxy server post on China from waaay back was a god-send (salamat pala. I’m now using freegate. My ultra surf got corrupted.) We’ve ‘chatted’ before. Umaasa ako maka-comment ka sa pinakabagong post ko (my Tagalog really really sucks. Pasensya kana).

    On not writing well, I don’t believe you. I really loved the conversation you had with the German a–hole. What a jerk. He can’t do that to his students. He’s destroying your self-esteem and not providing positive reinforcement.

  14. Vienna says:

    oh yeah… he’s an a-hole through and through.

    another thing… i do have another blog here http://www.bizarremarriage.com and I am inviting/asking/begging you to make a guest post there :D. that is if… the topic “intercultural marriage and relationship” interests you.

    if you are interested, chat mo ako sa YM. my id is myla_1st.

    in return, i will feature your blog in some of my blogs or i will display a 125 x 125 ad ng blog mo sa blog ko…. ikaw mag-decide kung ano. 🙂

  15. Kate says:

    Hey Vienna,

    I’ve snatched your comment back from the comment moderation queue where it was with other spam comments on porn. Lol. 😀

    Sorry tagal kc mahina ang connection with the proxy server.

    On the guest post, SURE! Why not? Except I wonder what topic I can talk about because I’ve never been married… nor even had an interracial (that sounded too kinky) inter-cultural relationship. My email’s gmail so I don’t know if I can chat with you via YM but I’ll try with Google talk. It’s okay if you can give me a link in your blogs (I don’t have an ad for my blog) and hope I can attract some readers of your Bizzaremarriage to my blog.

    We can talk more about this via email: mine’s ksirine.yu at the gmail. I’ll be sending you one soon after heading over to your site.

  16. Vienna says:

    cool… 🙂 salamat.

    i’ll write an intro to your guest post with a link to your blog. plus i’ll also you and your blog in some of my blogs.

    don’t worry if you don’t have an experience in inter-cultural rel. just share your thoughts about it… i am sure (judging on on some of your entries) that your thoughts on this topic would be really really really interesting.

    so you don’t use yahoo messenger?…. ok din lang dahil may google talk naman ako. i actually just sent you an invite. 😉

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