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Posts Tagged ‘honors class’

I am trying to make this first one less heavy than others and since I feel this is a bit more relevant at the time with so many other students now doing remote learning. I can say that all of my time in school was physically in a school and while, at times, I wanted it to be online away from others, seeing how some teachers act now, I’m glad that was not the case.

This event that I am going to speak of happened in 8th grade, since I am in the US our elementary school is 1-6th in a school, then 7-8th in another and lastly 9-12th on a different campus. I go into this detail since 8th grade is sort of important as it sets up 9th grade and the beginning of your high school experience. My 8th grade English teacher was a new one, we were her first year of teaching on her own; from our understanding she had been with other teachers and obviously done everything else required of her, but we were her test class. This class was also a Pre-AP class, why a class in 8th grade bothers to be AP I’ll have no idea, but it was like the school’s way of saying Honors, but spicier. I remember her name, look, attitude, everything about her but for the sake of I don’t know who will read this, I will call her Jane Doe.

Now Jane had a habit of really getting into things, she really wanted us to be prepared for high school and for those AP classes; she wanted all of us to be able to get a 5. I can’t stress enough how much more school we had to go through in order to get to those actual tests-we wouldn’t be actually taking them for YEARS. She had decided that we would do a mock English paper, and this part is a tad fuzzy-we knew they would be graded by an outside group but they had nothing to do with AP classes, maybe it was like an honors class type of thing, but the general information you need to know is that after we wrote our papers, timed of course, they would be taken from us, graded by an outside group, then returned to us. This grade mattered, and would have an effect on our grades so this was an important paper.

To prepare for this paper, she would have us write and write, but not in the ways we had been taught; the intro paragraph-body(s)-conclusion pattern was not good enough for her. She advised us over and over again that our INTRO needed to be spread out through our paper and that the thesis shouldn’t appear until the end. This went against everything I knew growing up, everything my teachers taught me had been challenged. Being a good student (at least at this time I was still trying) I took her way of writing to heart. I would write all of her assignments this way and she would grade them appropriately and I did well. I was excited; this test was nothing I was going to ace it. Testing day came, I couldn’t tell you what the topic was, something that was like Tell us about a time where you wanted something you didn’t get, I don’t know, but nothing like a book report.

I wrote three pages, as required, and then turned in my paper. Three weeks later we got them back. Most of my friends had ignored Jane’s way of teaching and wrote the normal way and were getting 4’s and some random 5’s, I expected at least a 4. I looked at my paper and boom, 3…and then a 2. If a paper was graded with a failing grade then they had someone else look at it as well. I failed. The first time in my entire school life, I failed. I turned my paper upside down and walked out of the room; should I have asked, sure. Did I walk to the bathroom so I could cry? Hell yes I did. I cried and cried in that bathroom, and the teacher much have said something since my two besties ran into the stall after me and tried to console me. I explained to them what happened and they were just as shocked, we all had similar writing styles and always seemed to do well but when I asked them how they wrote their papers, they told me they ignored Jane and her ‘stupid way of writing’.

I was shocked and my confidence was gone; from that point in class I was quiet, I didn’t want to share I didn’t want to write anymore. For those that failed, like me, we were given an opportunity to retake the test. We were sent to another class, a completely different English teacher, and then we were told of the criteria again, and given the test with a new topic. Before she handed out the papers, I asked about the form my paper should take; I asked if I should stick to the normal intro-body-conclusion way or the ‘other’ way, and she responded with “Why is there an ‘other’ way? The given standard is intro-body-conclusion?” She was so confused, but I couldn’t go into detail without taking more time from my writing, so I ignored Jane and put pen to paper.

5, I received a 5 on this new test and felt relief; I wasn’t stupid or ignorant, I just had bad direction. I felt as though in some way this was personal; Jane didn’t like us, and set us up to fail. This was me in 8th grade, now as an adult I can see that she was new and ignorant to how her actions would affect those she taught. I began to doubt other things however, like if I really belonged in that class, scoring a 2-even once, did I deserve a spot in an Honors class? Jane made me forget everything prior to that moment; any awards I had received, any praise from previous teachers, I was now a 2.

It took a few years for me to become confident again, which I know sounds silly, it’s just essays and writing; nothing too serious. She was also the one who would recommend what class we took in 9th grade however, so when I wound up in a remedial English in 9th grade everyone around me was shocked. I had final grade of A in her class which means I should have continued onto Honors in 9th grade, but no. The teacher in this new class even questioned it and I, once again, had to take another written test to determine which English class I should really be in.

Side note: I’m not saying anything about students and what classes they are in, we all need to be where we can find the most help, we all need to be catered to in different ways and that’s not a bad thing. If you’re in a non-honors English class that doesn’t mean you’re stupid or can’t do the work, is simply means that you express yourself in different ways. I got off track, but again just because you might be in a different type of class doesn’t mean you aren’t smart-the way schools work places value on different areas.

I was finally able to get into the class I was supposed to be in, but even after leaving her class Jane was still showing her true personality towards her students. I have so much more I can write about Jane, but since this post went a little long, I’ll write about those experiences another day.

If you feel as though a teacher, or other academic adult is treating you unfairly go to someone else and tell them. There is always someone higher-up who should respond. I wasn’t aware I could say anything as a child, and let me tell you, I should have.

Take care and stay safe ♥

Vanessa

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