Word Count: 1093
The Trials of Terrible Teachers
Here she comes, the wicked witch of the west, flying in on her broom cackling at us, with a voice like nails on a chalkboard, pushing us harder and harder each day on vocab lists that seemed to go on forever. “Rapid fire!” she would shriek. This was one of her choice phrases that we quickly learned to associate with mental torture. This is my beginning Spanish teacher Doña. Her real name is Mrs. Schaffield but for reasons that I will explain later, she makes all her classes call her Doña. David Sedaris reminded me of my experience with Doña while reading his work entitled “Me Talk Pretty One Day”. I can definitely relate to his experience with his French teacher because even though she never came right out and said it like in Sedaris’s experience, you got the feeling she just downright hated our class and didn’t care about us at all. So, according to what Sedaris points out, indifference to her students, too high of expectations, being condescending, and aggressiveness towards students are all characteristics of terrible teachers.
I personally identified with Sedaris in his experience with his French teacher because her indifference towards her students strongly reminded me of my Spanish teacher Doña’s attitude toward my freshman class. To give a little background on her, Doña had always taught the senior and AP Spanish classes because she likes older students. This was the first time teaching anyone younger than a junior and she made it clear on the first day of school that she was not happy about this new teaching assignment. For most of us, this was the first time being in a Spanish class, so it wasn't exactly what you would call a warm welcome. I remember being excited for Spanish class because it was something I had never done before. But once the bell rang that signaled the end of class, my emotions had turned completely upside down, from excitement to complete and utter horror. A lot of my classmates and I often speculated that she was never as cruel to her other classes before us because when we asked older students about her, they had nothing but good things to say. When Sedaris was quoting his French teacher he would use some English and some French. This reminded me strongly of Doña because one minute she would be talking in English, and the next minute she would go off and start jabbering away in rapid Spanish, somehow forgetting that this is a beginning level Spanish class. She would do this all the time as if we really knew what she was saying. But when a student would ask her to talk in English, she would simply say that the best way to learn a language is to have someone speak to you in it frequently. This might have been true for the upper Spanish classes but when you don't know any Spanish whatsoever, it gets confusing fast. This leads into her unnaturally high expectations for our class. We would go through the material really fast and when we asked her to repeat something, more often than not she would look at us like we were crazy for asking such a thing. Her expectations for us were like she was teaching a beginning course to her AP class. She expected us to get everything right away and not to have any problems. It was frustrating for us because we knew she could be a really good teacher if she wanted to, however the only reason she was there teaching us at all was because she was being forced to.
Also, in Sedaris’s work, Sedaris says that his French teacher “proceeded to belittle everyone from German Eva […] to Japanese Yukari […] She’d shaken us up a little, but surely that was just an act to weed out the deadweight ” (31). I related a lot to how Sedaris was feeling towards his teacher because Doña was frequently condescending towards our class. For instance, her real name is Mrs. Schaffield, but she made us call her Doña because in Spanish it means a highly respected woman. She would also where a tiara to