The time was 2:55 p. m. and the school day would be over in five minutes. We weren’t working right up to the bell either, the supply teacher (who I had had problems with before) had let us sit at the tables and casually chat while we waited for the end of the day to come. To keep an eye on the time, I had my phone out, there were no clocks on the walls after all. With my phone out, I decided to pointlessly scroll through the menus in order to pass the time.
“Right,” she said as she came up to me, “either you can give me that phone, or you’re going to have to stay behind at the end.”
“Okay then,” I said, “I’d rather you’d keep me back at the end because I don’t want to have to give you my phone, I might well need it at some point.”
“Give me your phone!” she shouted as she snatched it from me.
While I was disappointed about having my phone taken at least, I thought, I wouldn’t have to stay behind at the end.
The bell rang and she said “Everyone can go…”
I got up and headed towards the door.
I turned round and sat back in my chair.
Once everyone had left, she stood in silence looking at me.
“I thought you said that I could give you my phone or stay behind, not and stay behind,” I said.
She walked towards the door and said “Follow me.”
As we walked down the corridor I asked “Where are we going?”
She kindly told me that we were going somewhere called “Shut up.”
Before long we had arrived at the school’s main reception. She had a quick quiet chat to a woman behind the desk and then turned back to me.
“You’re not getting that phone back for a long time,” she said.
“I thought you could only keep confiscated phones for a week?”
“I can keep your phone as long as I like!” she shouted.
“But that’s stealing,” I pointed out.
She said nothing.
“I guess I’ll have to buy a new phone then,” I said sadly.
“So you think you’re better than me? Is that what you think?” she said, rather aggressively.
“I don’t remember saying anything that implied that,” I said.
“Well, you can go and explain yourself to Mr. Williams now.”
Mr. Williams was the head teacher of the school. I wonder what exactly I had to explain as it all seemed quite simple to me.
We went in, and I took a seat on the opposite side of the desk he was sitting at while my supply teacher stood in front of the door.
“Why have you brought Adam here to me?” he asked her.
“Well, first he had his phone out in class, then he wouldn’t give it to me when I told him to, and he’s just been constantly rude since then. Just a minute ago I told him we’d have to confiscate his phone and he said ‘Oh I don’t care I can just buy another!’,” she said, her voice quite strained.
I frowned. That wasn’t quite how it happened..
“Do you like your teacher, Adam?” he asked.
I looked at her, and then I looked at him. I didn’t want to lie, but, then again, I didn’t want to her to start shouting again.
“Well, she’s not my favourite teacher,” I said, “but she’s alright, I guess.”
“So why have you been treating her like this then?” he asked.
Well, that was a tough question to answer. I’d much rather he’d ask her why she was treating me like that. I paused for quite a while and, for some time considered pleading my case and pointing out all that she’d done, but I eventually decided it would be a lost cause. It seemed that I would have to start lying.
“I’ve been very stressed lately,” I said. “I guess I was inadvertently letting it out on her.”
Since I was a teenager, and a lot of teenagers are stressed, I hoped that’d be a good enough answer.
He asked the teacher to leave the room and said that he wanted to speak to me alone for a few moments.
“What grades are you expected to get in your exams?” was his first question.
“Mostly Cs and Bs,” I replied.
“Do you realise that, without this attitude problem of yours they could all be As?”
“Could they?” I asked, inwardly groaning.
“Yes, they certainly could. I have another question for you too.”
“And what’s that?”
“Do you know what the word ‘arrogant’ means?”
I didn’t want to sound arrogant, so I said “No, I don’t. What is it?”
“I could’ve been a professional footballer, you know? I was just going up and up. But then I realised that I thought too much of myself, I was getting too cocky, I was too ‘arrogant’. So I packed it all in and became a teacher,” he said.
“Oh I see,” I wonder what exactly he wanted me to say.
“I think you’re too arrogant, Adam,” he told me. “Tomorrow I want you to find your teacher and to give her a heartfelt apology.”
He let me go then and I went home. Later on I sent an email to a friend of mine telling them about what had happened. This friend of mine happened to be the daughter of one of the English teachers and she told me that she’d already heard about it, because that supply teacher had come into her Mum’s room and been complaining about me. I was told, through my friend, that the reason she was so angry was because I had been ‘really sexist’ and, in fact, it seemed to me that even my friend was a bit annoyed at me over that. I was pretty unhappy about this because, I’m always extra sensitive about these things, I’m a feminist, and to accuse me of sexism was rather ridiculous. Clearly, as she’d not mentioned it in the meeting with the head teacher, she’d just made up some lies about me afterward just because she hated me so much. I honestly can’t think of another explanation. Luckily my friend believed my side of the story in the end, saying she always trusted me, which was nice.
The next day, I went through my lessons as usual with no intention of giving any apology. Unfortunately, I was called out of my fun Science lesson to go and see the head teacher in his office about the apology. He wanted to know ‘how it went’ so I told him I was saving it for the end of the day. I found her at lunchtime and gave the most meaningless and forced apology I’d ever given and hoped it would sound sincere.
“I saw you apologising to that teacher earlier,” a friend of mine said to me shortly afterward, “it just sounded like you were being sarcastic the whole time.”
One week later I got my phone back.
And so that’s the story of the worst teacher I’ve ever had, I still find it hard to believe that anybody would be so unprofessional.