“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”
A lot of teachers can relate to Kurt Vonnegut’s quote. From kindergarten to final year, they’ve seen it all. Here members of this heroic profession share their stories about the hilarious, sweet, droll, and occasionally clueless things their students do or say.
Rock Me, Amadeus
Performing Mozart should have been the highlight of my middle school chorus class. But after a few uninspired attempts, an exasperated student raised her hand and said, “Mrs Willis, we want to sing music from our generation, not yours.” Wendy Willis
Lost in Translation
To my German-language students, I’m “Frau Draper”. One girl gave me a badge she’d made with my name on it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t big enough to include my entire name, which meant that she presented me with a badge that read FRAUD. Cathleen Draper
Why Waste Paper?
I recently asked a student where his homework was. He replied, “It’s still in my pencil.” Larry Timmons
“Don’t do that,” I said when one of my first graders playfully draped a bank note his eyes. “Money is full of germs.”
“It is?” he asked.
“Yes, it’s very dirty.”
He thought about it a moment. “Is that why they call people who have a lot of it ‘filthy rich’?” Elizabeth Webber
Me, Myself and Him
Jimmy had trouble figuring out when to use I instead of me. Then one day, while creating a sentence in front of the first-grade class, Jimmy haltingly said, “I … I … I shut the door.” Realising that he was right, he jumped up and down and shouted, “Me did it!” Susan Williams
My sixth-grade class would not leave me alone for a second. It was a constant stream of “Ms Osborn?” “Ms Osborn?” “Ms Osborn?”
Fed up, I said firmly, “Do you think we could go for just five minutes without anyone saying ‘Ms Osborn’?”
The classroom got quiet. Then, from the back, a soft voice said, “Um … Cyndi?” Cyndi Osborn
During the driver’s education class that my friend taught, a student approached a right turn.
“Use your turn signal,” my friend reminded her.
“No-one’s coming,” said the student.
“It doesn’t matter. It might help those behind you.”
Chastened, the student turned around to the students in the back seat and said, “I’m turning right up ahead.” Joseph Wagner
Thanks for the Help
On the last day of the year, my first graders gave me beautiful handwritten letters. As I read them aloud, my emotions got the better of me, and I started to choke up.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m having a hard time reading.”
One of my students said, “Just sound it out.” Cindy Bugg
The kids were painting a project for social studies and got some paint on the floor. Fearing someone might slip, I asked a student to take care of it.
A few minutes later, a piece of paper appeared on the floor with the words Caution – Wet Paint. Christy Knopp
Let’s Ask the Professor
During snack time, a kindergarten pupil asked why some raisins were yellow while others were black. I didn’t know the answer, so I asked my friend, a first-grade teacher, if she knew. “Yellow raisins are made from green grapes, and black raisins are made from red grapes,” she explained.
One little boy suggested, “Maybe that’s why she teaches first grade, because she’s just a little bit smarter than you.” Erica Coles
“In Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis,” I said to my English class, “a man, discontented with his life, wakes up to find he has been transformed into a large, disgusting insect.”
A student thrust her hand into the air and asked, “So is this fiction or nonfiction?” Diane Sturgeon
I assigned my third-grade class the task of drawing one of Christopher Columbus’s three ships. I had no sooner sat down when a boy came up with his paper, which had a lone dot in the middle.
“What’s that?” I asked.
He replied, “That’s Columbus, way out to sea.” Dale Barrett
Why, Thank You
As I welcomed my first-grade students into the classroom, one little girl noticed my polka-dot blouse and paid me the ultimate first-grade compliment: “Oh, you look so beautiful – just like a clown.” Priscilla Sawicki
Halfway through the semester, I discovered that a student was retaking my course, even though he’d gotten an A- the first time through. When I asked him why, he had no recollection of having taken the class before.
“But you know,” he said, after mulling it over, “I thought some of this seemed familiar. I just couldn’t remember where I’d heard it before.” Lawanna Lancaster
Sticks and Stones
“I got called the g word,” sobbed a third-grade girl.
“OK. Let’s calm down,” I said, kneeling beside her. “Now, exactly what were you called?”
Between sobs she blurted, “G …g … jerk!” Steve Wright
Everybody’s a Critic
A student in my English class gave a big thumbs down to the autobiography he’d read. His reason: “The author talks about only himself.” Ruth Hunter
It Doesn’t Add Up
When one girl had finished the English portion of the examination, she removed her glasses and started the maths questions.
“Why aren’t you wearing your glasses?” she was asked.
She responded, “My glasses are for reading, not mathematics.” Kathy Olson
Fluent in English
Our assistant principal called in one of my underperforming “Introduction to Spanish” pupils to ask why he was having trouble with the subject.
“I don’t know. I just don’t understand Ms Behr,” the boy said. “It’s like she’s speaking another language.” Marcia Behr
Figure of Speech
After a colleague had finished his English lecture and his class had filed out, a student stayed behind to confront him.
“I don’t appreciate being singled out,” he told his teacher.
The teacher was confused. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t know what the ‘oxy’ part means, but I know what a ‘moron’ is, and you looked straight at me when you said it.” Jannie Smith