I need the story of the Underground Shakespearian Ring
Okay, so the school I went to for 9th grade had this really bizarre grading setup that I still don’t understand- for some reason, instead of the teachers writing up and grading tests and exams and the like, all the work was sent to an unknown third party for them to grade??? It made no sense.
Now, for the most part, the school had decent teachers, and they would just teach the curriculum correctly and then you wouldn’t run into problems with the grading. My English teacher was not one of those teachers.
So like, she hated me pretty early on- she was my homeroom teacher and thought it was disrespectful that I slept in homeroom in the mornings (I was on sleeping pills and they never wore off completely until around 10am), I never had the vocab homework in on time (someone kept breaking into my locker and stealing my vocab books I had to buy a new one like five times), she thought it was “inherently pessimistic and stuck up” when she caught me reading a book called ‘Ninth Grade Slays’ (it was about vampires, not her?), and during our Greek Mythology unit I kept correcting her about the name pronunciations of the gods (she pronounced Hephaestus as Hepatitis one time holy shit).
Anyway, her feelings on me aside, her teaching skills were shoddy at best. But I had had way worse teachers, so had the rest of the class, and Greek myths are pretty straight-up in what’s going on, so no one really had trouble with the third-party tests.
Then we get to the Romeo and Juliet unit.
Now, fun fact: Shakespeare has always come pretty easily to me. Like, to the point where I sometimes forget/fail to understand that other people have an incredibly hard time translating his works. (I told this whole story to my friends in the school I went to for 10th/11th/12th grade and when the drama department put on ‘Midsummers Night Dream’ one year, more than half the cast tried to get me to translate their scripts and monologues for them lmao).
So, anyway, I’m just a girl, reading Romeo and Juliet and digging how it’s going…and then the teacher starts ‘translating’ it.
I cannot sift through all the bullshit this woman was spewing, but let’s just say that my favorite part is during Romeo’s spew about Rosaline, there’s one part where he says something like ‘with cupid’s arrow/she hath diane’s will’, and the teacher was taking this to mean Rosaline was a Super Lesbian who was breaking the law or something and running away with her lover Diane, which would be a rad storyline, sure, but like…I’m just raising my hand like “Um Ma’am, Diana is the Roman goddess of chastity. What Romeo meant is that she told him she’s sworn off love and is probably becoming a nun?” and this woman just got. So angry. Like, excuse me, you are a student, you’re here to learn, so you clearly don’t know anything about this (
I read Romeo and Juliet for the first time in like preschool whoops). Anyway, she continues on making up her own plot to the play, and I…well I was basically Hermione Fucking Granger at this point I couldn’t just sit there and listen to someone be this wrong about something omfg??? She just got angrier and angrier and stopped calling on me after a while.
So for a couple lessons I’m just left to seethe quietly, but one day after class this girl I knew since grade school came up to me and was like “Could you…? Tell me what the hell we’re supposed to be learning?” and I didn’t even like her but I liked the validation of being someone’s Chosen Teacher so I wrote out a summary for her of everything we had covered so far so she could actually write a comprehendible essay for our homework that night.
But THEN the during the class when we got our essays back, she made a HUGE DEAL, like ‘oh Molly, it wasn’t bad enough that you’ve been failing this course material, now you have to drag your friends into it by trying to re-write the play?’ (l m a o). Like this bitch had literally tried to fight me on ‘Paris is the guy Juliet’s father wants her to marry’ and she didn’t even put a grade on my essay where I said the play only ended in tragedy because of how young and naïve the kids were, that if they had taken a breather and thought things through it probably would’ve been fine (
it was a damn good essay and I stand by it). But anyway, she’s trying to make me out to my classmate’s as someone who’s trying to sabotage their education for laughs.
This backfired on her.
See, it dawned on people one by one, that she was only teaching the wrong material -> so they wouldn’t know the right material -> so when they eventually would take the exams they would only have her crazy answers -> which the third party graders wouldn’t know about -> everyone fails this course that’s like half the overall grade of the year.
Most students consider that a problem.
So suddenly the class has decided I’m the fucking Shakespeare Whisperer or something, and one by one start begging me for help. At first I was confused, because as I said, it’s so easy for me that I didn’t realize literally the entire class was lost out of their asses here. omfg. So I was really getting hassled here but I didn’t want my entire class to fail you know???? So I started meeting with people during study halls or texting them after school so they knew what was going on. And then they started telling people in this teacher’s other classes, including upperclassmen who were lost as fuck, so this was quickly spiraling out of control on my end, but overall people were really starting to understand the plays better!! So I was feeling really great.
But then, the teacher noticed that none of the homework getting handed in to her matched up with her crazy translations, and knew I was the sole person to blame (naturally). She literally tried to get me suspended over this, she went to the school’s disciplinarian!
Note: This guy, Mr. C, knew I was a God damn angel- my science class was off the charts, inappropriately awful, so every time one of our science teacher’s wanted to give the entire class detention, instead of calling Mr. C up to the class room as was the rule, they’d send me down to get him so he’d know to write up every student except for me. So when my English teacher dragged me in there he was looking her like “What on Earth could this girl have possibly done to piss you off?” 😂😂
And when she explained he looked at her for a very long moment, glanced at me with a signature ‘Office’ Reaction Face™ , turned back to her and was like “You want her suspended…for starting a study group?” and I was CHOKING.
So that really pissed her off and they started fighting and this was a very overworked and Done man so at some point he gave up and was like “I’m not suspending her but fine we can put a ban on the study group if you leave my office” omfg. So all the other students get notified and now they’re back to freaking out about the upcoming exams.
So like two days later, I’m at lunch, complaining about this to one of my friends who had a different English teacher and thus no problem, and I’m on this whole angry rant (Because I’m pissed, a bunch of kid’s grades are gonna get fucked up because of this! They just wanted to do well! I just wanted to help them!) and my friends staring at me quietly the whole time and when I finish I’m like “What?” and she’s just like “…Molly did you literally start up Dumbledore’s Army in our fucking school?” and I died on scene.
But then I started thinking about the comparison and I was like? You know fucking what? If Harry Potter can get those kids to pass their fucking DADA test I can help kids pass their fucking English Exam. Bring it the fuck on, Umbridge.
So I started Spreading The Word that anyone who needs help with their Shakespeare course can still get help, we just all need to meet up once to hash out the details. After some back and forth notes and deliberations, we ended up meeting in the school library, which was hilarious for a few reasons:
1) It was directly across the hall from this teacher’s classroom.
2) It was actually a converted janitors closet, way smaller than all the other classrooms, and there were like 50 people shoved in there; Not exactly an ideal Room of Requirement
3) The library carried no Shakespeare texts, but had the entire Harry Potter series on display to see when you first walked in
But anyway, despite the fact that we were literally three feet away from her door while we were doing this, our teacher was none the wiser of the meeting. We worked out a game plan- everyone writes out bullshit essays that align with what the teacher’s expecting. After she grades those and gives them back, they get them to me- slipping them in my locker, handing it to me discreetly in the halls or in another class, what have you. I then try to power through the dizzying amount of confusion radiating out of the teacher’s mouth and onto these papers, and more or less write out better translation of what was going on in whatever scene they covered, what the highlights they needed to know were, stuff like that, and then slip it back to them in similar discreet fashion (so the teacher/disciplinarian wouldn’t see me and get suspicious ; also because I was like 15 and wanted to feel like a super cool secret agent). They would then keep my copies and use them as study guides for the upcoming exams, where they would then answer all the questions correctly, the way the third party graders would mark correctly, and pass the exams + the bullshit essays would get them high marks in the teacher’s homework grades. The teacher never caught on to what was happening, just thought her students finally started paying attention to her.
All in all, it was a complicated mess, but it fucking worked. I don’t think anyone failed their exams that year. Will I ever be cooler? No. I think I fucking peaked when I was 15.