This past Monday, our Principal called us down to the library where she informed all current Chemistry students that our Chemistry teacher, who throughout this blog post will be referred to as Doc, had decided to take an early retirement. Now, Doc was a very loved teacher who had taught at our school for a very long period of time. His goal was to instill in his students the desire to achieve their best and the realization that it doesn't matter anymore how much they tried, but how much they did. The students that Monday morning in the library had mixed reactions. Personally, I had known about this situation prior, so my reaction wasn't in any voice. I didn't begin to exuberantly yell or say "WHAT?!", but instead I put my head down in disappointment. I stared around and looked at compared the different reactions based on students of different classes- the honors class, the college prep class, and the academic class. Most of the students in my honors class were in disbelief, it was half joy and half disbelief for the college prep class, and the academic class students simply told each other that they would miss him but that now the class would be much easier.
I want to go back to Thursday morning. I'm standing around in the back of the room, writing my notes. Doc's attempting to teach the class how to do "ICE" tables for solving equilibrium constants, but everyone in the class seems to accuse him of doing the process wrong according to the textbook. He becomes agitated and tells us to close his book, as he is trying to teach the way it's done and nobody is letting him finish. I remain quiet and observant of the class, pretty much how I normally am. I see the arrogance of some of the girls in my class as they roll their eyes and slam their books shut. Doc begins to talk and explain as one of the girls cuts him off saying thats not how you should do it. Doc slams the marker onto the board and sits down, saying "I'm done. I can't teach you guys if you guys can't be teached. That's it".
Thursday afternoon, we have his period for the second time. We walk inside and I notice he isn't there. This is kind of unusual as Doc is never late to his class, he's always sitting behind the huge stacks of papers behind his desk. Around 5 minutes pass and he finally shows up and walks into the room with a bunch of papers in his hand. He puts them on his desk and immediately goes to the board, saying, "Take out a sheet of paper. You told me I wasn't doing it right so it seems like you guys know the right way to do it." He puts around 5 problems on the board, giving us 3-4 minutes to compete each. Once everyone has made their attempts, he tells us that this quiz will not be graded, and sends a student up to the board. The student does the problem right, but no one else in the class including myself understands it. She approached the problem a different way than Doc was teaching it. The period goes by, as Doc stands on the right of the room, not even a foot away from where I am standing, telling us that he can't teach us so he assumed we could teach each other. Well, that didn't work either. The bell rang, and little did the class know this was the last time they would learn from Doc again.
As we walked out, I had a feeling that something was wrong, and after observation of the class and his reactions I knew something happened. Him and I were the last two to walk out of the room, so I decided I should tell him something true that would make him feel a bit better. He walked outside and stood outside his door, and I stopped their with him and said, "You know Doc, I understood it the way you were teaching it and I didn't understand it the way the book explained it. I just thought I'd let you know if it makes any difference." He replied, "You know, Aadil, your class is simply unteachable. And there's no other way to say it. You're alright though. Keep doing what you're doing." I gave a laugh and apologized on behalf of the class's rude reactions and he said it was all okay and gave me a pat on the back.
This was when I knew that Doc was leaving. I sensed it. I knew something was going through his mind and he had finally reached his breaking point. As I walked to my locker and gave one look back, but he went back into his room. This was the last conversation I had with Doc.
Friday comes along, and he's gone. A substitute is there and teaches the students how to do ICE. What's hilarious to me, is that he's teaching it the exact same way. The same students that would cry and lie about how much they miss him on the following Monday are the ones wishing that this substitute was Doc's replacement (if Doc would have ever left). These same students who showed such shock on Monday, are telling this substitute they wished they had him instead of Doc. I find it so hilarious, that it pisses me off. I tell another student in the class that Doc left, and they don't believe me. They all just thought he took the day off.
This substitute wasn't just a substitute, he really was Doc's replacement. The kids wished for it, and they got it. So why so shocked on Monday when the news was told? Why cry? Why lie about how much you are going to miss him, when you are contradicting what you said?
That Friday, I went all the way in the back of the class, pissed off, and secluded myself.
On Monday, we headed to class where our new teacher, the sub from Friday, was teaching. Everyone looks around and sees that Doc came in over the weekend and cleaned out his entire room. Took all the things he wanted, but surprisingly threw out his coffee maker. He left all the chemicals and posters hung.
People asked me if I was shocked, people walked around sluggishly, and I said no I wasn't. They asked me why, and I told them that I knew it. And they thought I was being boastful about, or lying about it. They were making the assumption that he told me, and I was boasting about how he only told me. Well guess what, he didn't tell me. All of the students who disrespected him told me. His face told me. His reactions told me.
Doc was the most accredited teacher at our school. He had the most experience, and deserved respect. The way that 16 year old kids were trying to prove him wrong that day is what pisses me off.
Another thing that pisses me off is seniors who don't go to our school, weren't eyewitnesses of the situation, were being held as credible sources for what caused Doc to leave. Rumors spread around that there was an altercation between him and the principal, that he was "forced out" by the administration. Well, you know what, it doesn't matter how he left, it is clearly apparent that he had been poked around so much that he had finally reached his breaking point. I don't care by who, by what- I just know that he is glad to be home spending time with his beloved family and grandchild.
He has moved on, now we should move on.
The guy retired. Of course he deserves our respect and of course the kids who are being hypocrites are pissing some of us off, but the only way Doc would like it to be done now is to move the hell along and pass his class! If you really claim to know Doc, you would know that he has the capability to stick up for himself and doesn't need hypocrites who claim to respect him but clearly don't, wearing a picture on their shirts. The kids who did this for commemoration deserve my respect, but the kids who did it just because everyone else was doing it is wrong.
Respect the man with words. Send him an email. Leave him a call. But then, let it go, move on, pass the class, and remember the great memories you had with him.
Personally, I left him a voicemail:
Hey Doc,Make a better move. Show him your respect, because there is no point in showing each other how much you respected him.
I gotta admit, I know it’s only the first day of you not being here but it really isn’t the same without you.
I know I can’t blame you for leaving early but I’m really upset that you weren’t able to leave on a high note.
I only wish we were able to at least handshake or at least be able to say a proper goodbye.
But now the only last memory I’ll have with you is you patting my back and saying that our class was unteachable.
I can’t blame you, because I understand what you mean if I put myself in your shoes.
I don’t know if you noticed but I did kind of observe the class from the back of the room and I noticed the constant frustrations leading up to this day. I can’t say it was unexpected.
The thing that really pisses me off though is how disrespectful people can be. We were all called down to the library where the Principal told us about your early retirement, and many students out of arrogance began to joyously yell they knew it and wanted it to happen.
I know you can’t make them LIKE you but they at least could have respected you for your credentials.
Honestly, I should have said this last week when I had a feeling it was the last time I would be your student, but I want to express my sincere gratitude towards you for being a great teacher and great role model.
One thing you said that I keep close to my heart is that you can’t try, you can only DO. I really keep that in my heart and you’ve left a great impact on me.
So, I guess that’s it… on behalf of the people who I know will miss you, we feel a great loss in the staff and thank you for your years of teaching. We wish you best of luck in your future endeavors.
Hope to see you again sometime soon. Bye.
-That's the TFAT.