I remember when I first taught Stephan in grade 10 and there were a couple of (how do I put this?) "rough" days. I went to Stephan and said "listen, you need to learn when it's appropriate to be a smart-aleck and when it's not" (I know. I know. Pretty rich, coming from an overly-sarcastic person like myself. But still... it needed to be said). And Stephan responded - DRIPPING WITH SARCASM!! - "Oh I'll be sure to do that. I certainly will".
Me (getting angry): You're doing it right now. Stop that!
Stephan (sarcastically): Oh, I'll be sure to stop then.
Me (ANGRY): THAT'S ENOUGH!! [rant rant rant blah blah blah etc etc]
It's pretty funny now but at the time I was pretty incredulous ("how DARE he?"). And it got me concerned about this Stephan D character ("seems like trouble"). That was over two years ago and I don't think I've ever had to say another word (discipline-wise) to Stephan since! Guess he got it all out of his system in the first week! Funny!
A few other things I'll always remember about Stephan:
- Stephan is one of the top Math students at our school. How do I know? Because he ALWAYS ranks as one of the top students in the math contests that many of you write. In fact, I believe his name is on the "Hall of Fame" poster on more than one occasion; one of only a few people to have this great honour! To perform well on these contests it is not enough to merely memorize some question types and follow a set of prescribed steps. It requires creative thinking, deep understanding, and strong logical ability. Stephan has all three of these things in spades!
- Stephan's handwriting! It's shocking! Ghastly! Awful! It's so bad it's good! Marking Stephan's work is always a challenge, but at least I know what I am looking for ("the answer is 17n and he probably got it right so let's see if he wrote that somewhere"). But what does his English teacher do?!?
- Stephan really wants to do well, but, over the years he has allowed himself to fall behind in a couple of chapters and do poorly on the chapter test. After such tests, Stephan has come to me and he seems genuinely embarrassed / disappointed in himself: "It's my own fault. I didn't prepare properly. I can't believe I did so poorly. etc". It's actually pretty endearing. And then he writes the retest and gets (I kid you not) somewhere in the neighbourhood of 90-95%. EVERY SINGLE TIME!!