What I Hated the Least Today 81/365: School

Test writing from the teacher’s end

I’m back to school and I hate to admit that I don’t hate it. My new temp job at a low-ranking business university brings me back to teaching—English as a foreign language. I consider English my first language in many ways, so it took me a while to realise that my English major students don’t actually speak English. Curiously, international visiting students are even worse, which leaves us with no language to communicate in. It’s all kinds of awkward.

To introduce myself as the sweet and understanding teacher that I am (not), my first task was to write with students a midterm test. The test has been prepared by the teacher whom I’m substituting. She provided me with a pile of materials, most of which I’m required to carry to each class. I’m no more surprised that she went mad, since she is taking things so seriously. I’m a serious person too but I only take seriously serious things that matter. Now, figure that one out.

I need a carrier for all the stuff for class that I’m carrying around. Carrier shouldn’t be confused with career, which was, almost dishearteningly, the most common mistake on the listening part of the test which I’ve already marked. I suspect that confusing career with carrier might have an adverse impact on the students’ future careers, which might turn out to be that of delivery guys and girls. Bringing smile on your face with our deliveries since we graduated from our business university course.

In retrospect, I suspect that the students underestimated me. As I dress youthful-ish and act funny—I deem it better for students to think that their teacher is embarrassing herself than to think that she’s dead boring—it might be that the poor young things held me for some old last-year student who just popped in to write the test with them. Of course I did tell them I’m their substitute teacher, but that was before I realised they mostly had no idea of what I was saying because English is a foreign language to them.

In one group, there was a clique of four boys at the back who were being disruptive throughout most of the test. As if they couldn’t cheat quietly so as not to disturb me while I was abusing the university equipment to do some proofreading. While I am well paid, I’m not paid well enough to sit tight and stare at the students sweating while they were trying to figure out their English tests. After considering what to do with those four disruptive elements, I decided for subtle terror, approached them before the class dispersed and took their names. You could tell it freaked them out.


Author: Mara Eastern

I'm a sardonic blogger, snapper, scribbler and rhymer; a virtual space invader who indulges in cheerful negativism, morbid self-deprecation and bleak humour.

9 thoughts

  1. Interesting. Very interesting! These are university students, and they can’t speak English?! WTF?
    I think that’s probably a good approach … the part about acting funny.

    Great idea about taking down their names. It will probably be a whole different story next time you see them.

    So, this job is three days a week, right. What days, and is it always the same days?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you find my experience as much interesting as I do 🙂 It’s proving to be quite good for me to go among people and do something else than sitting at the computer the whole day.

      It’s almost a shame that it’s a temp job, I would totally love it permanently – three hours a day for three days in a week. It’s three groups and I teach each group the same thing – which is convenient, less home preparation required of me. The times are always the same, it’s given by the timetable.

      I’ll see if my enthusiasm changes next week or not 😉

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Grocery store is probably worse than teaching a bunch of knowitall youngsters because in the grocery store, you’re at the mercy of the cashier, while in class, you have the advantage of being in a superior position to the students. In the ideal case scenario.


          1. I have trouble imagining how much worse mistakes I could come across at a secondary school. But then, when I was taught English, emphasis was on accuracy. I was impossible to create something like “had getting have” and get away with it.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved your story about the joys of being a substitute teacher. Ha ha! Glad to hear that you dealt with the disruptive elements. Makes life easier the next time you’re in their company. Maybe just giving them the evil eye will be enough in the future. Good luck on your new journey—- self-employed, part-time teacher. 🙂


    1. Awe, thanks so much for your kind comment! Evil eye? I don’t think I can even give the evil eye, I’m afraid my face looks too kind… Appearances are deceptive though, so I’m sure I’ll find a way to keep the unruly class in order 🙂 I’ll keep you posted! Meanwhile, have a great weekend and good Easter!

      Liked by 1 person

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