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    Category: Staff

    Seriously Enforced Nap Time

    | Irvine, CA, USA | Family & Kids, Staff, Teachers

    (I am working as a TA to receive my cost-of-living stipend while pursuing my PhD. I am teaching a review session for an upcoming exam, and discussing operant conditioning with my class.)

    Me: “So, say we have a first-grader who keeps getting out of their seat, and we want to find some way to encourage him to stay seated during class. What can we do?”

    Student: “Tranquilize him?”

    Me: “…I guess.”

    A New Grade Of Teacher

    | Washington, DC, USA | Extra Stupid, Staff

    (I have just started a job as a first grade teacher. I’m coming in as a mid-year replacement, so I’m in and out of the filing room checking my students’ files to catch up. Each shelf is occupied by one entire grade. Later that day:)

    Secretary: “[My Name], you need to be putting your files back in alphabetical order when you’re finished with them.”

    Me: “Oh, I’m sorry! I thought I had.”

    (I go back to the filing room, but my files are alphabetized, just the way I left them. I shrug it off and leave to do some other work. Later:)

    Secretary: “[My Name], I was just back in the filing room and I TOLD you, you NEED to put your files back in ALPHABETICAL ORDER.”

    Me: “I did! I just checked on them. Didn’t you see? I have [last name that starts with A], [last name that starts with B]…”

    (I list the names of my students in alphabetical order.)

    Secretary: “…oh. I thought you had the whole shelf.”

    Me: “You thought I had taken over the entire first grade by myself?”

    Secretary: “Well, when you put it that way…”

    Booked For Life

    , | Ukraine | Books & Reading, Staff

    (We’ve got a sign in our university’s library saying: ‘Dear readers! When ordering a book, please be considerate enough to try and remember the title and the author, and not just the size and colour!’)

    Me: “I’m sorry, do you have ‘the basics of communicative theory’ textbook?”

    Librarian: *one whom I’d never seen before, who points at the sign* “Who’s the author?”

    (I usually write down the names of authors and exact titles of the books I need so as not to cause trouble to the librarians. I realize I’d forgotten the notebook where I’d written down the author’s name.)

    Me: “Erm… It starts with [letter]… and it has a white and green cover…”

    Other Librarian: *comes from the back of the library with the book* “Here you are. The author’s name starts with a different letter. You’re lucky we only have one textbook for this course.” *to the other librarian* “Get used to it; those students never change! *points at sign*

    Me: “I’m sorry. Thank you.” *walks away ashamed*

    Room For Error

    | Brooklyn, NY, USA | Staff, Teachers

    (All the buildings on campus are assigned a letter of the alphabet, and room assignments are given as the room number followed by the building code letter. For example, ‘212B’ is short for room 212 in the building with the letter code ‘B.’ I teach in Whitehead Hall, which has the letter code ‘A.’ I am hurrying up the stairs on the first day of classes, trying to make it on time to the class I am teaching, when I am stopped on a landing by a very confused and anxious freshman. She is staring at the class schedule she’d gotten from the registrar, looking very upset and perplexed.)

    Student: “Excuse me, I can’t find my room anywhere. Can you tell me where room ‘TB’ is in this building?”

    (My mind is on my upcoming class and I haven’t been teaching here very long, so I just shrug and say I don’t know before resuming my run up the stairs. Only after I’d gotten another flight up did it suddenly dawn on me what must have happened: the room assignment had never been put into the registrar’s computer, so the classroom was still listed in the system as “to be announced”—TBA. I turn back to clue her in, but the confused student is already long gone. Later I told the story to my colleagues, laughing at my own obtuseness as much as anything.)

    Colleague: *with an evil gleam in his eye* “You should have told her it stood for ‘The Basement.'”

    The Agent Hasn’t Found Their Calling

    , | UK | Extra Stupid, Staff

    (In the admissions office we frequently deal with recruitment agents who act as representatives for students, handling everything on the student’s behalf. The agents often phone in with one problem or another.)

    Agent: “One of my students has been trying to make a payment but he keeps getting an error message.”

    Me: “Okay, which payment method is he using?”

    Agent: “He’s doing it by phone.”

    Me: “He’s getting an error message… by phone?”

    Agent: “Sorry?”

    Me: “Wait, is he paying online?”

    Agent: “Online, yes.”

    Me: “Ok, well if he’s getting an error message online and he’s due to enroll this month, it might be easier if he phones our finance office and they can just take the payment over the phone.”

    Agent: “That’s what he’s trying to do.”

    Me: “He is?”

    Agent: “Yes, but he keeps getting an error message.”

    Me: “Someone is giving him an error message over the phone?”

    Agent: “Yes.”

    Me: “Do you know who he’s been speaking to?”

    Agent: “No one.”

    Me: “He’s not paying by phone?”

    Agent: “By phone, yes.”

    Me: “If he’s paying by phone then he must be speaking to someone. We don’t have an automated phone system.”

    Agent: “Sorry?”

    Me: “Do you know what number he called?”

    Agent: “I’ll check.” *rustling and clattering for a few seconds* “It’s some sort of phone number, I think. Yes.”

    Me: “Can you read me the number please?”

    Agent: “It’s some sort of number.”

    Me: “Are you sure he’s paying by phone–”

    Agent: “By phone, yes.”

    Me: “—and not online?”

    Agent: “Online, yes.”

    (This continued for some time until we both gave up.)


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