The Evolution of My Horrendous High School Experience
Going into my freshman year made me nervous enough as it was, all because I was heading into a new school and was back to being the bottom of the totem pole. Everyone had been talking about the freshman hazing and how it was going to be so bad, so I didn’t want to go. The summer between 8th grade and my freshman year seemed to be the one that went by the fastest. Soon enough, I started high school. At first it wasn’t so bad. I kind of lost it here and there once in awhile because of my nerves, but overall it seemed that it wasn’t that much different than middle school.
Soon my okay high school experience turned into a not so okay experience about a month into my first year. This was all because of my English teacher. She was so rude all the time and no one wanted to be in there. Mrs. Stein was a middle aged woman who appeared to hate her job. She always seemed mad at everyone and everything. She would make sarcastic remarks about students’ appearances or demeanor, thinking she was funny. I can’t even remember how many times I had left her class after first block crying. She was horrendous. At some point near the middle of the year my grades started dropping, and I wasn’t really sure why because my essays, homework, tests and quizzes definitely didn’t have enough wrong for them to be getting low grades like that. I talked to my mom to figure out what was going on. She was just as confused as I was. I went and talked to my teacher Ms. Stein and she told me, “You don’t participate enough in class so why would I give you good grades on any of your other work?” I just about lost my mind. If could have driven, I probably would have left that day right then and there. I called my mom from the bathroom crying once again and trying to figure out what to do. This ended up being just the beginning of a long high school experience.
After my freshman year of high school, I thought I was in the clear of never having to sit in a room with my awful English teacher again, especially since I had gone to the guidance counselors in the school who made the schedules about what had been going on. I even went to the superintendent about how she was falsifying my grades just because she didn’t seem to like me or any other student for that matter. Somehow, even after the school had to get involved in my situation with this teacher, I was placed back in her class for my senior year. This was after several meetings with her, including my guidance counselor, my mother, and the principal at the time, as well as a letter to the superintendent explaining the issues. Although I was so angry that the school had placed me back in this woman’s class, I decided to stick it out. It wasn’t even a full 365 days, so I figured that I could do it. I assumed that at some point in my life I was going to have to work with someone I don’t particularly care for so I could use this as practice. By about the third week of the class, however, I realised I made the wrong decision. By then it was too late to transfer. I came to the realization that nothing had changed in three years, and I was in for a hell of a ride my last year of high school. She was so rotten to everyone; it seemed like each class she would find someone and pick on them for any little thing she could. She had no idea how to use sarcasm and really just made most people not like her. One class, freshman year, I specifically remember her asking a question, and a girl in my class named Bella answered. Ms. Stein turned and looked at Bella in front of the entire class and said, “Wow Bella, you’re smarter than you look.” I have never forgotten that, and I probably will remember that moment forever. I was in shock. I couldn’t understand how a teacher could talk to a student like that and get away with it. I could never really comprehend why she would keep a job like teaching if she hated every kid that walked into her class.
Then, going into my senior year we got one of our year long assignments. Ms. Stein had assigned a reading requirement of five to seven books per quarter that needed to be read and then have a conference with her about what we read. She would then decide if the book would count or not. More often than not it was like pulling teeth for a book to count. Each book I chose to read was a fight for it to count. It made this “choice reading” assignment difficult for me to understand. She called it choice reading but we could only use books she liked, so there wasn’t ever a choice. This was the exact same way for many of the other kids in the class as well. It really depended on whether or not she liked you enough. Throughout this process, we were never praised for the things we had read and accomplished. We were always criticized on the progress we had made. Because of Ms. Stein I quickly began to hate the idea of reading. It was a nauseating chore, and I was running out of any books that I liked. I was also running low on time to read them for the most part. My guess is that she was probably so self centered that she forgot that all of her students had six or seven other classes on top of hers. But the reading assignment was mostly the only thing we did in her class other than a couple essays or reading quizzes here and there. I don’t really think that I learned anything about writing in that class other than what she would grade; what she marked wrong I would figure out on my own.
Reading at home was the easy part of the assignment. That was where I was comfortable and happy away from that classroom. Each day I had her class I got anxiety attacks to the point where I would hyperventilate and get the feeling like my chest was tightening and I would struggle to breathe. I think I was in the nurse’s office more times that year than my sophomore and junior year combined just to avoid her class. The school nurse even knew why I was in there. She would just ask me if I had a headache again and “recommend” that I lay down on one of the beds and rest. Everyone who walked into her 4th year, third block English class was harassed by this woman in some way at some point during the year. She was a person who was so unapproachable that I would go to my junior year English teacher when I needed help on assignments in her class. I really don’t believe I learned anything relevant my last year of high school to help me in college writing classes.
This “moment” was important to me because this class completely changed my view on literacy. From the reading assignment that burnt me out from reading anything with a story line to really not learning much to help me with my future writing classes, I felt that the class did nothing for me except make me miserable and not want to learn anything that had to do with English again. I used to read books here and there before this class started. Now I haven’t picked up a book that I wasn’t required to read since. I can’t stand reading. Reading is hard for me because it is something I hate doing. I can’t set my mind to read anymore. To read and understand something, I take notes and that is what seems to keep me on track. As for writing, I think I’m lucky for my first year to be in a class that helps with basic writing things that I need to know. It will help me so much more in my future. I believe that with one full year course I will learn more that I ever did in my four years of high school. But while I thought I had not learned anything my Senior year of English class, reflecting back now I was wrong. I may not have learned the things you should learn in a typical English class, such as sentence structure and grammar; I learned three other important lessons. The first being that patience really is a virtue, and persisting through unpleasant things in life will only help you grow as an individual. Secondly, having a bad teacher causes bad lasting effects and habits that I had to change on my own once coming to college. Lastly, the most important thing I learned is that if you aren’t getting what you need out of any situation such as a class, it is your responsibility to change it. Making the decision on your own is the only way to help yourself succeed. In my case I do truly believe I made the wrong decision in taking her class, and next time I will follow my gut instinct.