Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Awkward Return and An Awful Teacher

I think of sixth grade as the beginning of my descent into the 'unpopular crowd'. Really this is one of the first years I noticed there was a distinct line between unpopular and popular. I had gotten a taste in my 4th & 5th grade classes but I thought that was just at the different schools I attended, not universal. Actually as I got older it upset me less and less to be apart of that group. Sure it would've been nice to have more boys think I was pretty, and by high school I would've loved to be on homecoming court, but as an adult I don't feel I missed out on anything important.
This was the year I returned to the school I spent 1st-4th grade (half of 4th grade) attending. It was very awkward for me. I knew some of the kids in my class already from my earlier years, but we had not kept in touch in my absence. Instead of welcoming me back, which is what I expected particularly from one girl who had been a very close friend from 1st grade on, I was accused of 'staring' at her and told to knock it off- or else. I didn't remember staring at her, I had noticed her in my class, but I had been searching the faces of everyone, looking to see who I should remember. Apparently I had lost the good graces of all the kids I had once called friends, though I did eventually make new ones.
In addition to my threat from an old friend, my first day of 6th grade was only made worse by our first assignment. We broke up into partners and interviewed each other. Then we were to write a couple paragraphs about that person and our teacher took our pictures to add to our little introduction article. Then in the coming days we would spent a little time introducing our partner to the class. Unfortunately for me, our class had an odd number of students, and like the rotten cherry on top of sugar free, freezer burned ice cream sundae, I was partnered with Mr. W, my first ever male teacher.

(This was the photo attached with the interview, I apparently couldn't wait to throw away most of it, but I have never been one to toss pictures...even BAD ones it seems!!)

I don't have any lasting memories of the interview I did with him, but I have plenty of the year that followed. I may have decided ahead of time I would not like him, considering that traumatic first day, but he quickly proved me correct in my decision. I can't pinpoint exact reasons, but I know on more then one occasion I felt extremely uncomfortable around him. I do remember one time in particular, I was upset with some of my friends after a big fight, so upset that I felt physically ill. I went to the nurse and with little evidence other then how I said I felt- no fever- I convinced them I needed to go home. I don't remember how much of it I exaggerated, I am sure a little bit just because I couldn't stand to be in the class after such a big fight, I remember crying about it. My grandma was called and I went home with her, without having to face those particular friends for the rest of that day.
I was not so lucky the next day, my mom made me go back to school despite my protests. But my fears were pointless, whatever the issue had been, by the following day all was forgiven and forgotten, at least by most. However Mr. W was not happy with my quick recovery from my 'illness' the day before. At our first recess he held me in and asked if I had been lying the previous day about being sick. I denied it adamantly, and in truth, I hadn't felt 'well'. I remember crying tears of anger that he would question this as he hit his point, that I went home because I was upset about a fight with friends. While he was essentially correct, I didn't feel it was any of his business. It was between me and my mom, and maybe the nurse who had made the decision to allow me to go. How dare he accuse me and take away my recess when I had done nothing wrong! (And I would like to note as a parent now, I would still disagree if a teacher did this to my own child. There have been plenty of days my kids didn't feel good and the next they were back to normal, bouncing off the walls!). As far as I was concerned this teacher was the worst teacher I had ever had or would ever have! I was overjoyed by the end of the year to be leaving behind not only elementary school life, but most importantly Mr. W!

One other little memory I will never forget is from the end of the year. As I had tried to get everyone in my class to sign my yearbook, even people I didn't like, I shyly asked a boy in my class named James. And his reply was "You wish." And all the boys he had been in the group with who had already signed my yearbook just laughed and snickered as I held back tears from those 2 little words. I had never much cared for him to begin with, but I genuinely hoped to have everyone sign and not only was he refusing, but he embarrassed me, like it was wrong I should even speak to him. Yes, I was relieved when this school year was over. Just more proof that the division between the popular and unpopular was beginning!

This is the 8th post of 15 in a series I am doing to record my youth with other woman at


  1. Crystal, I could have written this too! 6th grade was not a great year for me either. I had one not-so-great teacher who was rude to me, and was in a brand new town & school. 11 years old is the worst time to try and make new friends I think. Just wanted you to know I enjoyed reading this and you weren't alone!

  2. Ugh! How awful! I'm sorry it was an overall bad year. Aren't you glad we don't have to go back?

  3. ohhhh...terrrrible year. That's so awful that you got paired with your teacher and so awful that he was so mean! I was painfully shy in a lot of ways, but I don't think we had such mean kids in my class! I feel like everyone was pretty much friends with everyone, but I read stories like this - it makes my heart so nervous for my kids as they grow up. Ya know? I'm sure as awful as it was for us, it's going to be worse watching them grow up and struggle with friendships, etc.
    (visiting from group 3!)

  4. So sorry to hear about this awful year. As a previous 6th grade teacher, I agree with you, that he was in the wrong. Also, he should have paired you up to make a group of three for the interviews. No one likes working with the teacher! Thanks for sharing

  5. 6th grade seems to be a year of definite attitudes. You were probably protected by not being popular. It seems to me popular kids sometimes get in the most trouble.

    I feel more sympathetic toward jr highers reading all these posts.


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