Thursday, December 10, 2009

I love underachievers.

For four years now, I have taught the "worst" kids in the school. Without fail, I always get assigned to teach the remedial English classes that none of the other teachers want. Some of the honors teachers feel sorry for me--but guess what? I feel sorry for them. Who would you rather teach: funny, relaxed teenage boys who keep me laughing with their crazy comments, or uptight, grade-grubbing AP kids who crowd my desk to whine about every missed point on their last test?

Of course those are gross generalizations. I have some high-achieving kids who are great and some low-achieving kids who are a pain in the butt. But overall, there are some real perks to teaching underachievers:

1) They don't try to cheat on tests because, well, they aren't expecting a super high grade anyway.

2) They don't copy each other's homework because, well, they realize that their classmate is not likely to know the right answer.

3) They don't notice when you lose a pack of their journal responses and quizzes because, well, they don't even remember completing those assignments. (If they even did!)

Yes, it's true...not one of my eleventh grade students has asked about the papers that I lost on my plane trip to Idaho. Not one.

Luckily, it was only about one assessment per class period that disappeared on the plane in Atlanta. So, I simply excused the assignment or gave everyone participation points for completing it, and then I moved on with my life. I am quite proud of myself because, in past years, I would have been freaking out and given myself anxiety attacks over this loss. (Eh hem, I might have been one of those uptight AP kids in a former life.)

Rachel Westover Nielson is learning to relax--maybe my students are rubbing off on me! :)

P.S. I did tell my seniors (because I lost a major essay for them), and they all just reprinted it. I can't believe it, but it was no big deal! (Huge sigh of relief!)


  1. That's a great step! Congratulations!

  2. I'm glad it worked out! I am amazed that you were so chill about it!

  3. Not one of them has asked?!?!?! Oh my gosh. That is crazy. I think my subject matters dooms me to teaching over achievers most of my life.

  4. I wondered about those papers! Love this post, love that you love those kids. They are definitely the ones I would want to teach. I'm thinking you 'experienced' a really important lesson....I hope you 'learned' from it. There is so much that just needs to be seen from a fresh perspective to make like so much better. I'm still trying to learn that one.

  5. AMEN, sister. If I have to hear ONE MORE grade complaint from a student (or worse: their PARENTS) I will rip my hairs out.

    Also, thanks for the great link to the meanest mom blog. Weird thing is, I wrote a blog post about college acceptance letters that day too!

    It's been so fun to swap stories via our blogs :)


I love hearing from you!! Thanks for the comment!