It seems I am not as forgiving as I thought I was. My instinct for this Open Call was to invite all my K-12 teachers, the bad ones and the good, including my mother, who home schooled my sister and me for the first few years of grade school as we traveled. Once everyone was seated, the loud sound of automatically locking doors and windows would shush the room so I could explain.
After welcoming everyone and letting all my guests know the dinner would be wonderful, I would reveal that the purpose of the gathering was beyond eating fine food and very much focused on educating the lousy teachers in the group about their failings. For their less-than-able-to-teach dinner companions, I would encourage the guests who are dedicated and talented teachers, and thus unattacked, to use the red pens and ruled composition books at every place settng to write suggestions for how to be an effective and encouragaing teacher. If they wanted to mention body odor or other issues, I would be fine with that.
Addressing each guest, I would thank those who inspired and taught me. There are many. In fact, at least once a month my 6th-grade teacher and I talk on the phone. Note that I was in 6th grade in the 1970s… Pat was a great teacher and is a wonderful friend.
Addressing the teachers at the dinner who made life much more difficult than necessary, I would say I learned not from them but in spite of them.
<i>Ms. S from Seaside Heights: It was probably your first year of teaching, but adding to the homework list until the class finally quieted down did not inspire me to learn; it made me feel punished.
Mr. A from Lavallette: Swallowing regularly so that your spit doesn't build up in your mouth is a good idea, as is wearing clean shirts that do not easily form sweat rings. You were a nice guy, but your personal issues were extremely distracting!
Mr. M from Butte: Giving me an F on my very first English assignment when obviously I was taught how to diagram sentences in a different way, made me despise you. It was my first F. I felt awful and spent the rest of the year working furiously so that I finished two weeks early for every quarter and had the opportunity to sit and stare at you all day. Yeah, yeah. SRAs. I started at tourquoise. Been there, done that at other schools because my family traveled a lot. I almost had the SRA stories memorized. If you had thought to have even the briefest of conversations with me, you could have shown me how you preferred sentences to be diagramed and all would have been well, with me earning an A on the 2nd try at that first assignment. Also, it really bugged me that you said "ray-road" instead of "railroad." You must have known I was bored out of my skull. Why didn't you give me something else to do? It was pure torture.
Mr. R from Butte: When I asked you a question in algebra class, it was not because I had vision problems. "Can’t you see that? What, are you BLIND? You're in ALGEBRA now…" You are the only teacher who ever made me cry in class. I used to love math until you entered my life. I think you were a coach, forced to teach in order to be a coach. I tried making appointments with you before and after school, but you said you were too busy. Fortunately, another teacher in the building very generously helped me with my assignments for a couple of weeks and my grades skyrocketed. She was a teacher. You were a miserable, ugly person.
Mr. Y from Butte: I thought I would give geometry a try, but on the first day, when you seated all the girls in the front of the room and stared at our crotches, I knew I was doomed to walk away forever from classes involving numbers.</i>
Fortunately, all the other people at this fantasy table are true educators. They love kids, they love teaching – and they know how to make subjects, even those that are more difficult, interesting, exciting, and fun.
Even if it makes me a bad person, I have to say that during this dinner I know I would enjoy watching red pens move furiously as the nice, creative and talented educators wrote notes for the dunderheads.