Nov 16, 2009

School Daze: Wrestling with Intimidation

Day 16

I loved elementary school but hated my junior high and middle dchool years but when I got into high school it became a little better. It was not like the good old days but I did have some fun times.

I didn't hate high school ALL the time but looking back it sure felt like I hated it at least half the time. But when it was good, it was great! I had some fantastic teachers that I owe and I made some fantastic friends too. But there were some altercations in high school that made it horrible.

I had a teacher at high school that I thought I got along with. He was my Weight Lifting Coach and that is when I liked him. He really helped my try my hardest in that class but it was his Economics class that I really had a hard time getting along with him.

He was rather intimidating in his class. He tried really hard to push his way onto people. At first I tolerated it because there was really nothing I could do about it. But the final straw came when he made one of the girls in class cry. I didn't even know her all that well but I was pretty mad.

I got smart with him one day and he kicked me out of class. I forgot how it all went down but I was talking to a friend of mine a little louder than I should have (even though I wanted him to overhear it) and he was pretty mad. I came to class the next day and everything seemed to be back to normal.

At the end of the semester he invited us to give him a review of the class. It was to be completely anonymous. Now to be honest, I liked the class as far as what he was teaching. But I didn't like him and the way he taught. So I took that opportunity to let him know. I had nothing to lose. Or at least I thought I didn't have anything to lose.

I handed it in and went my way. During my 4th grade class he comes in to talk with Mr. Churchill and I didn't think anything. Then Churchill calls me out of class and tells me to go with the other teacher. I looked at his hand and saw he was holding a couple of those teacher reviews. "Let's go take a walk Matt." he said and we walked to his classroom. He had a class in there and he dismissed them and told them to take the extra lunch. Then he took me into his office and sat me down. As he circled to his desk he showed me my paper and asked if it was mine. I should have lied but I was feeling cornered. I said that it was and then he threw it toward me as he sat down and said, "You want to change anything?"

I wonder if this had anything to do with me being snagged out of class.

I sat there and read my paper. I got a little nervous and laughed a bit at what I wrote. I was much nicer than I remembered until I got to the second page. After I finished I looked up and tossed the paper back and said, "Nope. I said all I wanted too." My brain was screaming at me to shut up but I didn't have anything to lose. What was he going to do? Beat me up? He looked at the paper and looked at me for what seemed forever. "Why do you think this way?" he asked. And we hammered it out. I told him that I thought it was awful to make that girl cry and that he shouldn't try to intimidate people. This was not weight lifting class, this was not wrestling, this was Economics. I was with him for about an hour but I think I must have earned his respect. He was totally nice to me after and even told me that he was proud that I stood up to him. And my final grade out of that class was a B+. Better than I thought I would get.

He didn't want to keep the paper so he gave it back to me. And after how many years, I still have it. I wonder what my old Coach is up to now?


  1. Go Matt! It's so easy to be intimidated by a teacher, it's like you said they can't do certain things but they can make life a bit of hell. And I think it's great you've still got that piece of paper all these years later, it's a good reminder to you and something to show Logan too.

  2. Word to the wise... Nothing is ever anonymous when it is handwritten. Teachers have ways of recognizing handwriting and even occasionally collect papers in order and compare them with the seating chart. Or so I've been told...

    I love that you stood up to that teacher! When I look back on high school there are a few people, including teachers, that I wish I would have given my two cents.

  3. I am really proud of you for sticking to your guns and standing by your evaluation of your teacher. You weren't trying to be mean, you were giving honest, constructive criticism. I applaud your fearlessness! I wish I had been more like that in school!