Tag Archives: worst english teacher ever

You Might Be an English Teacher If…


Does anything contribute to sudden discomfort and fits of blinking into the middle distance than a poorly-placed bit of punctuation?

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What the hell does “daily” mean? If it’s sliced everyday, you don’t put “daily” in scare-quotes like that!

Who is the guy who writes the copy that goes on the packaging? Where is their copy editor? Do these people realize just how much strife they’ve caused me? It’s 5:45 in the morning, I’m trying to make a sandwich to send my kid off to school, and now my sleep-addled brain is burning out its tires trying to puzzle out just why in the name of all that’s holy the word “daily” isn’t just the word daily there.

Is it more-or-less daily? Like, some days they slice it, some days they don’t, but on the average, they slice it every day? Or is it “daily” as in taking place on a day?

This all could have been so easily avoided.

Just look at the havoc unnecessary punctuation causes.

All I wanted was a sandwich.

Oh, that novel I’m editing?

IT’S GOING “FINE”, WHY DO YOU ASK?

Here’s an experiment: In the next “e-mail” you “write”, just drop random “words” into quotes for no reason and see how badly you can confuse the “person” on the other end.

Let “me” know how that goes for “you”.

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Thanksgiving for Teachers: A Sample Itinerary


Thing about teachers is, it’s hard to describe being one. I mean, in a vague way I guess people think they understand it — well, you babysit some students who are sort of vaguely jerkish, you write some lesson plans and quizzes, you grade some quizzes, assign some homework, take an hour-and-a-half lunch every day, and then you get three months off during the summer. Oh and THOSE WHO CAN’T DO, TEACH HAW HAW HAW. And that’s true, in the sense that it’s true that bees are face-stinging forces of evil. Sure, they are, but that leaves out the much more important truth that they power the agricultural engines of the entire freaking world.

Teachers are people. Flawed people. People whose work gets the better of them sometimes, just like anybody else, and people who look forward to their well-earned vacations with a gusto that borders on the psychopathic. Seriously — take a walk through any school building in the days leading up to a holiday. See if you can’t smell the desperation coming off them in waves, if you can’t see the frenetic ecstasy rimming their eyes.

But as much as we look forward to our time off, we always screw it up. (Or at least I do.) Here’s how this Thanksgiving went in my life as a teacher:

  1. Organize a series of quizzes and essays to grade over the break. You have a week off; that’s plenty of time to fit in an hour or so somewhere to do a bit of catch-up work.
  2. Stuff said papers in your “teacher bag” and carry it home.
  3. On the short drive home, allow yourself to drift away completely from even the abstract idea that you are a teacher.
  4. Bag o’ papers goes in the closet. Enjoy a nice adult beverage with dinner because it’s vacation, dammit.
  5. Spend next few days doing house things and totally not doing teacher things. Bag o’ papers collects lint in the closet.
  6. Organize for your trip out of town. Do not, even for a second, consider bringing Bag o’ papers with you.
  7. Turkey and stuffing and travel whirlwind for a few days.
  8. Arrive home and decompress from seven hours in the car with kids who do not want to be in the car for seven hours. Bag o’ papers is still in the closet, lurking like bad leftover green bean casserole. Nobody is interested in either.
  9. Plan to hang Christmas decorations. Find that on your earlier trip to Home Depot, you got the wrong size staples for your staple gun. Go to Home Depot again. Get wrong size staples again. Give up and watch college football. (LOL what bag o’ papers?)
  10. Last day of the break. Plan to hang Christmas decorations. Watch Inside Out with the kids instead. Remember that you’re a teacher and you have to go back to teaching tomorrow. Write a blog post about the things you did instead of grading papers over the break. Think about taking some time to grade papers today (there’s still time) and remember that the Falcons play at 1 PM. That means: morning for decorating, football in the afternoon, and by evening it’s time for the usual Sunday evening routine of dinner, bedtime, and sobbing over the lost weekend while sacrificing a goat in hopes of buying more time before you go back to work.
  11. Wonder how in the hell nine days passed so fast. Drink wine until you no longer care.
  12. Monday morning. Retrieve ungraded bag o’ papers from closet. Go to work in a panic. Resume regular teacherly duties.

I’m assuming it’s pretty much the same for all teachers.


Double Space, I Hardly Knew Ye


I’m always afraid I’m going to be found out.

I’m that guy in the movies who’s walking backward against the current and the only thing saving me from annihilation is that somehow the other berks in the matrix haven’t scented me out yet. I’m covered in zombie entrails walking amongst the walking dead, counting on the smell of dead things to keep me incognito. I’m the wolf covered in tufts of cotton, only invisible because the sheep haven’t bothered to look my way.

I’m making it up as I go in every facet of my life. As a husband? Yeah, I’m five years into that and have no idea what I’m doing. As a father? Don’t make me laugh. What parent really knows what he is doing? It’s my baseline goal to make sure the kid doesn’t grow up to be a mass-murderer, anything beyond that is gravy. As a teacher? Let’s just say I fear for the future. Even now, as I write this blarg post, I’m inescapably aware that in no way am I qualified to be writing the things I’m writing about, whether in my novel or here on this lonely corner of the web. I don’t know what I’m doing.

The only reason, as Tommy Lee Jones said in Men in Black, that I’m able to go on with my life is that most of the time, I do not know about it. There are probably better ways to write, but I am merrily unaware. Doubtless there are better parenting methods, but mine is working well enough for me so far. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss. And I sure as sharknado thought I was doing a decent job as an English teacher.

The problem with living happily in ignorance is that sooner or later, somebody will point out the ways in which you never knew you were wrong, as evidenced by any nimrod who’s anti-vaccinations will be glad to tell you. Even now, this very instant, I am struggling with a bit of information I’ve just learned which is shaking up my very existence, fighting against the habits and automatic thinking which have been a part of me for over twenty years.

Seriously, how did I make it this far in my life not knowing that you only press space once after a period?

I’ve been typing with the double-spaced period for ages. AGES. I learned in my keyboarding class in middle school that a period gets two spaces behind it, and I’ve been typing that way ever since. Then today, it’s pointed out to me that two spaces after a period is nigh-archaic. I ask my wife who writes for a living, and in typical I-can’t-believe-I’m-married-to-this-idiot fashion, she says, “obviously. How did you not know that?” Somehow in twenty years I’ve missed the memo on this and nobody ever bothered to tell me.

Recently I heard a story about a guy who went into Home Depot to buy a new toilet and asked if, since he lived alone, he could just get a toilet without the seat. He lived by himself, no women in the house, so no need to put the seat down. Innocently, a worker asked him how he would be able to go #2, and the guy said, “what do you mean?” After a bit of embarrassing questioning, it came out that the guy had never sat on a toilet seat in his life, he always just squatted over the bowl. Certainly it never hurt anybody. He just never learned the right way and continued on, living his life in the complete wrong way until by mistake somebody set him straight.

So it is with me and the period. The humble period, of all things. Only the most common punctuation mark in the written language. Only the simple symbol of the end of a sentence, the building block of the paragraph, and therefore of all language itself. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve had to hit backspace, in this paragraph alone, to go back and erase one of the extra spaces I’m inserting as automatically as breathing.

The double space is a habit it’s going to take me months to unlearn. I wish I had a time machine so that I could go back, find my sixth-grade typing teacher, and punch her in the neck.

What’s next? Will I find out I’ve been spelling my own name wrong? Mispronouncing the simplest of words? Wearing my shoes on the wrong feet?


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