My Least Favorite Teacher

My least favorite teacher was my sixth grade teacher, Sister Helen, or “Yellin’ Helen” as she was known. I don’t think I ever saw the woman smile. Her face always held a frown and there was definitely a reason she was called “Yellin’ Helen.” She was forever screaming at my class for something we had done wrong, which only seemed to push us to go on to more mischief.

One of the worst things about Sister Helen’s class was geography. Through some error, the geography books had not been ordered and there were very few of them. So Sister Helen’s solution was to copy the book on the chalkboard and have us then copy the copy (are you still with me?) in our notebooks. We wasted most of our day copying the textbook and then answering the questions for homework. This situation went on for over a month. Finally my father, who was also a teacher, had had enough of my complaints of hand cramps and wasted time. He made an appointment to discuss this folly with Sister Helen and find out why she couldn’t teach us geography instead of having us copy the textbook. He must have made headway because we stopped copying the textbook and soon the actual textbooks arrived. But Sister Helen’s method of teaching was then to have us read the text aloud in class. She was without a doubt the worst teacher I have ever had.

If I were to talk to her today, I would explain to her that teaching does not mean copying a textbook or reading it aloud. It means supplementing the text with information that the teacher provides. A teacher needs to teach. I believe that Sister Helen was just too lazy to teach or couldn’t teach. Perhaps she didn’t know how. But it was her duty to teach us our subjects, which she did not do. Having students read text aloud, which is what she did in all subjects, is not teaching.

I doubt if my older self talking to Sister Helen would have changed the why she conducted her class. I think she was a hopeless case. We all basically taught ourselves the material we were to learn during sixth grade. This was just wrong. Luckily I was a motivated student and learned despite the shortcomings of my teacher, who was mainly concerned with keeping strict order in the class. Our school was fortunate in that Sister Helen only stayed at the school for one year and no other students had to endure her teaching techniques.

I suspect that there are teachers out there who use Sister Helen’s methods, and I hope that someone stand up to them as my father did. I pray all my granddaughters’ teachers have the sense to teach. I have a niece who is an elementary teacher and I am thankful that she is a conscientious teacher who cares about her charges and teaches to the best of her ability. My father would be proud to know his niece is a good teacher. I pray there will be no more Sister Helens in our schools.

About mairedubhtx

I am a "youngish" grandmother of 15 year old twin granddaughter who has recently (is a year "recent"?) adopted Islam as my way of life, much to the consternation of my family. I love to read. I love to write. I am writing a book about my decision to revert, about my spiritual journey. I have another blog about stories from my youth, my parents, and grandparents. It's a blog so my OCD daughter will not be able to throw it out when I die. I suffer from depression and anxiety, for which I am treated, so my posts may be a bit dark at times. C'est la vie.
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6 Responses to My Least Favorite Teacher

  1. Cindy says:

    Old Helen was probably a deeply unhappy woman, so odd that many members of strict religious orders are like that, just miserable.

  2. I had a teacher from my earlier school life who was just awfull.. “bitch” is the only word i can use to describe her… now i’m older the only thing that comes to mind is.. how can u choose to work then children then treat them so badly…

  3. The Hook says:

    What a great topic that everyone can relate to! Good job.

  4. I just had a PTSD moment. 4th grade teacher named Mrs. Slump. Cranky, old woman who wore clothes no better than rags, loose pantyhose with long hairs sticking out of them. She had absolutely no patience or tolerance of children, and should never have been allowed to teach. She still used a ruler when she got mad. Horrible, horrible, woman! We had this little rhyme for her back then. What was that now?
    “Mrs. Slump sat on a hump, skinned her rump, and landed in the city dump.” That was it! Hey, it was risque language back then…

    • mairedubhtx says:

      I think all of us had at least one teacher who should never have been in the profession. They caused real damage to their students, I think. My daughter had a fifth grade teacher who disliked her and made her life hell. I know the experience scarred her.

  5. Danille Hogy says:

    Hand cramps are usually brief, but they can be severe and painful, and sometimes accompany a tingling or burning sensation (paresthesia). This is a common in those with diabetes and others who have suffered damage to the peripheral nerves (peripheral neuropathy, a disorder that causes dysfunction of nerves that lie outside your brain and spinal cord). Dehydration is a common cause for cramping due to low levels of calcium, magnesium, and fluids in the body. Heat exhaustion can lead to dehydration and cramping in the muscles of the hand and other extremities like your legs.,

    My own, personal blog page

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