Tuesday, January 20, 2015

So, You've Been Wondering Where They Come From?

Ah, Isomorphic Learning Center;
You glorified table and chairs.
$75/session (of which I get $17)

Positive reinforcement!  Tokens!
But you have no idea how to use
positive reinforcement with the staff.

I'm really feeling defeated here.

So, there's Sweetheart.  He-she was making progress in terms of actually understanding algebra, the manipulations.  He-she was actually drawing neat graphs.  Yet, he-she still gets an F in the class.  Mom says send hir home with some extra problems.  Did you do them?  Ummm...  no, and you are digging in your backpack and can't find them.   Hmm.. that's weird, you say.  You don't know what you did with them.  It's the same each time we meet.  Send you home with problems.  They magically disappear.

Well, we have to be working on something today, so I need to have you do an assignment from our program.  What did you work on in class?  You don't know?  All you can say is that there was this one thing that he wrote on the board and it was really confusing?  Can you describe it?  Oh, all you can say is umm...  hmm...  I don't know it was really confusing.  You really want me to believe you have no fucking memory whatsoever of what happened in class today?

Lo and behold, when I hand you the problem set from our program, you start complaining about how the problems don't match up with the stuff you did in class.  You can't find today's topic in our book so I can't assign you something relevant. Did you bring YOUR book?  No, you say.  You left it at school because you didn't have homework.

That's how it always is.  You either forget your book, or you don't think you will need it.  Don't you think that if you are coming HERE you might need your fucking book?

So, now you're dragging your feet on the assignment I just gave you.  It takes you an entire hour to do 3 problems.  THREE FUCKING PROBLEMS!  Really, I'm supposed to yank the assignment after twenty minutes but I have to pick my battles.  God forbid that anything be interpreted as "rudeness" on my part, or if you should go home and tell mom that you never get a chance to learn anything.  Or worse yet, you make a scene in here.

When students complain...  while he never came right out and said it, that's the kind of thing that reflects poorly on a teacher.  Our director does not like complaints.  He is obsessed with retention.  He actually sat me down and told me he was disappointed that none of my students begged to be brought here and that, while none of the said anything negative about me, none of said they absolutely loved me either.

I'm sorry, but we aren't a Chuck E Cheese.  Yes, there are plenty of ways to make math fun, and I use all of them.  But you know what?  The students don't like them.  They've decided that if math is involved, then it sucks.

Ah, then there's the ACT student.  You've been using our center for the past year or so.  Mom came in last month with your PSAT scores wanting us to help you raise them.  And you know what?  Sometimes our director is actually on the same page.  You know how, when he stopped by our table, he pointed out to you that it is very difficult for us to help you maintain math skills if you always have something else to do when it comes time to come to my table?  Yeah, you either have a history paper to write or whatever.  Once in a while is understandable.  But, once, I didn't see you again until two months later.  You were always at that other teacher's table working on something else.  Even worse is that it seems the other teacher is enabling your avoidance when she-he asks you, "Do you want to go do math now or do you want to sit here and work on something at my table?"  Why are you even asking that?  She's SCHEDULED to be at MY table doing math so she-he is supposed to fucking be here!  Stop enabling hir!

As if your farting around wasn't bad enough, you decided you needed a vacation from math this year.  Now we are back at square one.  You made it to algebra 2 but now you've forgotten everything and can barely understand arithmetic.  The other day, when you couldn't understand why seeing a plus sign between two expressions meant you add them and not multiply, I about cried.

Our learning center philosophy insists that we provide a student centered learning environment at all times.  Our director doesn't seem to have the balls to intervene and tell a student to put the paper away and go do your scheduled math, because that's not student centered.

When students work slowly and STILL get every problem wrong and piss away another $75 without learning anything, then our director believes it's because I'm not relating well to you (whatever the fuck that means).  As he explained to me, parents hire our center because they've lost the battle at home and given up.  The kids don't want to be here.  It's our job to be both soft and hard at the same time.

I have no exact words, you say, but we need to be kind and firm.

Well fuck me.  I don't know, but don't you think that this will cause some to them to gosh... complain?  Don't you think that's a bit "rude" if we ride them to do their work faster?

Don't get me wrong.  I welcome the idea of having a healthy environment at my table.  I want students to feel comfortable.  I AM KIND AND FIRM!  But then, you don't want complaints generated.  So what am I supposed to do when you imply that students only complain when they don't "relate" well with their teacher.

I can think of plenty of movies about students "relating" well with their teachers, but I won't go there.


  1. Aargh. I hope your private-client list is increasing, EMH, and you can eventually give this up.

  2. I interviewed at four of the big name Isomorphic Learning Centers in my area and chose the one that was the least horrible. And at mine, the director acts like she's done me a favor when I show up for a no-show and she offers me "admin comp", which is $3/hr LESS than I pay the babysitter. I literally had to do the math for her to show her why that was unacceptable. Charge the fucking cancellation fee and pay me what you're supposed to pay me when this happens. I explained to her that I have to teach two consecutive classes or I don't actually make any money because I need to pay the babysitter for the commute - that after the first session I break even and after the second, I net the equivalent of minimum wage. I've done it on paper for her a thousand times. She constantly tells me in the last minute "your second session is cancelled tonight". So I told her now I can only do one night a week when I'm in that town anyway and she has asked me 12 times in 5 days what other nights I can come. NONE!!! She's a dimwit but she was smart enough to dump her education degree halfway through and get a business degree instead and people like us will suffer people like her for the rest of our lives.


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