One of my grade 8 students has arrived early and is sitting in his seat watching me drink from my mug.
Him: “Sir, what are you drinking?”
Him: “You like coffee?”
Me: “Yup. That’s why I drink it.”
Him: “Do you put anything else in it?”
Me: “No, just black.”
Him: “What’s black?”
Me: “It means I don’t put anything in it.”
Him: “You already said that.”
Me: “I know.”
Him: “But why do you drink it?”
Me: “I just like coffee.”
Him: “But why?”
Me: “It wakes me up and prepares me for conversations like this.”
She’s Number One
I catch one of my grade 9 students giving another student the middle finger. I quietly summon her to my desk.
Me: “What was that?”
Me: “Why did you give her the finger?”
Her: “It’s nothing.”
Me: “Seems like something. She didn’t look like she appreciated it.”
Her: “Trust me: she had it coming.”
Me: “I can’t imagine any context where flashing her your middle finger will resolve the situation.”
Her: “You ever been a teenage girl?”
Her: “That’s why you can’t imagine it.”
One of my grade 9 students approaches my desk. She shows me a drawing.
Her: “Sir, that’s you.”
I mock appraise it like an art dealer.
Me: “That is excellent!”
Her: “You think so? You’re not just saying that?”
Me: “No. It looks just like me.”
Her: “Thanks. I made sure to make the eyes Asian like yours.”
Grade 11 Student: “Sir, may I use the restroom?”
Me: “Class just started. Why didn’t you use it during the break?”
Him: “I didn’t have to go then. I have to now.”
Me: “Well, let me finish giving the instructions so I don’t have to repeat myself.”
Him: “Sir, when have you ever had to not repeat yourself to me?”
Me: “Go ahead.”
Staying the Course
In the middle of English 9 while discussing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a student suddenly raises his hand urgently.
Him: “Sir, when did they stop calling KFC Kentucky Fried Chicken?”
The other students start giggling.
Me: “I’m not sure.”
Him: “Do you have the date?”
Me: “Not off the top of my head. Why don’t you use one of our computers here and share the answer with the class?”
Him: “It’s okay. It has nothing to do with English.”
Grade 11 Student: “Sir, why do Canadians have Thanksgiving on different days than the United States?”
Me: “I’m not sure. I think it has to do with how ours is to mainly celebrate the harvest, but the American holiday is tied to Puritan traditions brought over from England.”
Her: “Are you guessing?”
Me: “Just relaying what I’ve heard. Why don’t you ask your history teacher?”
Her: “She’s not here right now. You are.”
Me: “I suppose I should be thankful for that?”
Her: “Yes. Count your blessings, sir.”
Honestly, thanks. I've been struggling to figure out what I wanna do after high school. Going between arts and money and easiness; every thought was thought. Your blog helped me realize what would honestly make my happy. So now I can say when admissions people ask what I want to be two words: theatre teacher.
That’s wonderful! But if my blog is inspiring you to be a teacher, remember that I’m only posting the stuff worth sharing. There are days when I think about quitting, but that always has to do with other adults, not the kids. But if you focus on your students and their needs and do your best to tap into their potential, you will have a long, amazing career. There is nothing like watching a young person wake up to their own gifts—it’s like the slow unwrapping of an unseen Christmas gift that is only visible to two people.
Best of luck!
Why didn't you ever have kids, I read in your reply about a son you never had...
I’m just one of those people who’s never had any inclination to even consider having kids. There’s a bunch of things I’ve always wanted to accomplish in life and raising children doesn’t fit in that picture for me. I think that’s part of the reason I have so much energy for my students. There are many teachers I know who are capable of being awesome parents and amazing teachers. I’m not one of those people.
However, I am a great uncle to all of my nieces and nephews and my friends’ kids. The ones who live in other cities Facetime me regularly so that I can make them laugh with my skits and silly impromptu kid songs. I’ve been told by their parents that there’s something about my face that makes kids laugh, like a clown. I take that as a compliment.
You Suck, Sir turned 2 today! Thanks for all the likes, reblogs, follows and letters. Mostly, I’m glad this is 1) inspiring a lot of bright, young, passionate people to consider teaching as a profession, and 2) encouraging my peers to keep at it. There’s a lot more to come!
One of my grade 10 students walks into class holding a large green drink.
Me: “Wow. What is that?”
Her: “Seriously, sir? You’ve never seen this?”
Her: “It’s a green tea frappuccino. Don’t you ever go to Starbucks?”
Her: “And what do you order?”
Me: “A coffee.”
Her: “But what kind?”
Me: “Usually medium roast.”
Her: “That’s so boring. You should try ordering something different. Something unique.”
Me: “Unique? At Starbucks?”
Her friends start giggling.
Her: “I don’t get it.”