A letter writer’s English project didn’t go too well… but the teacher didn’t have to be quite so hurtful about it.

Can our elder help turn things around?

Dear EWC

Recently, we had to do a project in English class, and I was busy all weekend. I threw something together that I thought was worth at least a low C, but it turns out, it was an F. When I finished my presentation, I ended with, “I’m sorry it’s kind of bad,” and my teacher told me, “Yeah, it’s really bad.” So I got my project sheet back the next day, and I had gotten a 12/50. My teacher at the end of class talked to me at her desk, and said some hurtful things and now I don’t ever want to go to her class any more.

Hedwig replies

This is very sad. I had a friend who wrote a paper that had a title page, then a blank page, and then the essay. The teacher wrote on the blank page, “This is the best page of your paper.” And this was in graduate school!

Teachers are far from perfect. Some are good; some are bad. Sometimes, one might have a good day, sometimes a bad day. Moreover, there are frustrations in reading many papers in a row and having to grade them. No, I am not trying to excuse this teacher. It was terrible that she made you unhappy. That is no way to teach.

However, look at what you admitted in your letter. You threw it together at the last minute. You yourself said it was bad before the teacher did. You took no pride in your work if you felt it deserved a low C. You took no pleasure in doing it; the teacher took no pleasure in reading it. You actually made each other unhappy.

So now, what to do next? Actually, you do not have to like the teacher — that is not why she is there. You have to learn from her. There must have been some point to the project — something it was supposed to teach. That you sluffed it aside is an insult to the teacher and what she wanted you to accomplish. And she reacted.

So what can you do next? You do have to attend the class. Even if you could change, it would be running away from rather than facing the problem. Here are some choices:
• Ignore the whole thing.
• Set up a conference with her and tell her how you feel. That you were hurt and why.
• Show her that you can do A-grade work. That will erase the grade and the earlier experience.

If you work hard and show an interest in the class and the projects assigned, you truly will have benefited from this experience. Learn both the English lesson and the life lesson, and move on.

Letter #: 432581
Category: School

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