Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Is that what that James Cameron movie was about?

From K:
Kid: What's cleavage? Does that mean boobs.
K: Yes.
Kid: Why do they call it cleavage? Shouldn't they call it, like, 'abyss'?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Letter From a Former Student

A few weeks ago I sent a former English teacher an email.  I felt weird doing it. Although I've gotten a ton of emails over the last decade, and I'm friends with kids on social media, I've never contacted a former teacher. To be honest, part of that is due to the fact that I didn't have many teachers who I liked in high school. Of my four English teachers, only one of them stuck with me in a positive way.  So I wrote that teacher an email to let him know...

Dear -------

My name is M and I graduated from A High School in 2000. I in no way I expect you to remember me, as I was an average student in your Honors Sophomore class (this would have been during the 1997-1998 school year) who likely sat in the middle of the room and was quiet, although maybe I occasionally participated in the sarcastic and sassy way sophomores do.

I'm currently in my 11th year of teaching English at That One High School in That One City.  I've taught both Junior (American) and Senior (World Lit) English and am currently teaching all senior classes. I wish I could say I was inspired by my high school English teachers to become a teacher, but that would be a lie...sorry. I wanted to be a Spanish teacher, but through a series of circumstances, I changed my major to English. I've always been a voracious reader and I love to write, so it just made sense that this is what I would devote my life to.

There's not a lot I remember about high school English, at least not about Honors Freshman, AP Junior, and taking 101/102 Senior year at Local Community College.  I do, on the other hand, remember a lot about Honors Sophomore English.  I remember you wearing green tights and singing "The Lady of Shallot". I remember reading and discussing Macbeth, which I now teach, and being horrified at how manipulative Lady Macbeth is. 

Your love of whatever we were reading always had an impact on me as a student, and has formed how I approach my own classroom. Because when you got excited things, I got excited about them. I'm unabashedly nerdy and excited about most things I teach (except for Kafka's "The Metamorphosis", it's hard to get excited about Gregor Samsa), which I hope in turn makes my students excited about them. Whether it's reading "The Minister's Black Veil" with a piece of black fabric over my face, or having sword fights during the Iliad, I've become a firm believer that any sense of personal dignity goes out the window when I teach, because making my curriculum relevant and memorable is oftentimes more important that my dignity. And if a kid comes back in 17 years and remembers my passion for The Great Gatsby, or the way I cried in class at the end of The Kite Runner, or how much I raved about The Things They Carried, then I've done my job right.
So thank you ---------. Thank you for your passion and your devotion to your students and to your classes and curriculum.  This is oftentimes I thankless job, I know that, but please know you have inspired me in my classroom time and time again to love what I do and to be excited about it. I appreciate your passion more than you can know.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Give that kid a high five!

An email from K:

It's Friday, pep assembly day. Kid is wearing a knight costume, including a chainmail hood. 

A teacher says, "do you have to wear that all day?" 

He replies, "Do I have to? No. Am I going to? Yes."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spoiler alert...I don't.

I like when kids stick up for me...

Girl #1, to me: You seem like the kind of person who would have cats as your profile picture on a dating site.
Me: Uh...thanks?
Girl #1: I don't mean it as an insult. I just know you like cats.
Girl #2: How the hell is that not an insult?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Legit Sitez

My students are currently working on research projects.  They are required to use credible online sources, something we've talked about a lot this year.  So when a girl asked if she could use brainz.org as a source, which I actually laughed at and then replied, "Uh, any website that ends a plural word with a z is NOT OK."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


An email from K:

Kid #1: Why didn't you eat a cricket in science class?
Kid #2: I didn't feel like it. I'd already eaten Skittles.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

Things kids apparently don't know from the 1950s.

Two emails I got over the course of a week from co-worker S, who was obviously teaching The Catcher in the Rye at the time:

"Kids receive quiz for Catcher. Only my quite religious students asked "What is a pimp?" Delightful."

"So students read Chapter 19 with Carl Luce. And I was asking my students what behaviors does he exhibit that would make Holden think he's gay. And of course I bring up the goosing and go, 'so what is goosing?' And the looks on the students faces when they looked up the definition was priceless, and then their stumbling to explain was even better."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My life is weird sometimes. My job is weird all the time.

This is my life sometimes: 

A kid I've never had comes into my classroom and asks if he can sit in, because he's done for the day and has to wait for a friend who is in my class. I know the kid only because he was in a friend's class. I've talked to him once or twice. I say yes, because what else am I going to do? He sits in the back of the room, texting and doing some school work, then thanks me when he leaves.

My life is weird sometimes. My job is weird all the time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Legal Note: No teenagers have been punched in my class today.

Obviously yesterday was St. Patrick's Day.

Kid, skeptically: M, are you wearing green?
Me: If I'm not, are you going to pinch me? Because I'd really like to see you try that.
Kid: ...because you'd punch me?
Me: Right in the face.