Grade 10 Student: “Rain sucks.”
Me: “Why’s that?”
Her: “It just does. It’s a downer that needs to get on everything.”
Me: “That’s almost poetic.”
A hint of a smile appears.
Me: “See? It doesn’t suck that badly.”
Her: “I see what you did there.”
Grade 10 Student: “We should be allowed to use emoticons in our essays. Everyone uses it texting.”
Me: “Can you imagine if Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain used emoticons to signal their jokes?”
Her: “They didn’t text back then.”
While handing back student papers to my English 10 class…
Student: “Sir, what’s this?”
I walk over and see her pointing at something I’ve circled.
Me: “That’s a smiley face. You don’t need to put a smiley face in your essay.”
Her: “I wanted you to know I was joking.”
Me: “If you write effectively, I’ll know you’re joking. You don’t need to signal it with an emoticon.”
Her: “When you text your friends, how do they know you’re joking?”
Me: “I deliver the joke properly.”
Her: “That doesn’t always work.”
Me: “Then they don’t get it or it was a bad joke.”
Her: “It’s just joking, sir. You make it so difficult!”
War and Peace
Senior Student: “Sir, which novel have you read and thought was a total waste of time?”
Me: “Tolstoy’s War and Peace.”
Him: “Really? That’s a classic!”
Me: “I know. It just didn’t do it for me. It’s subjective, like my curriculum. I know there’s no way you’ll love all of the books I choose for the class.”
Him: “So I don’t have to read them?”
Me: “Nice try.”
English 11 Student: “Sir, favorite guitarist.”
Him: “Really? Why him?”
Me: “Have you ever tried to play lead guitar while dancing in platform heels?”
Him: “I don’t usually look for those qualities in a guitarist.”
Me: “If you’d been around in the eighties, you would.”
Some students from English 11 and I are chatting about musicians we like.
Me: “Okay, my turn. Best bassist. Go.”
Student: “Easy. Victor Wooten.”
His friends nod in agreement.
Him: “Are you serious? Sir, really? We can’t discuss this any further with you until you’ve listened to Wooten.”
He lends me a CD later in the day.
Two days later, they are back in my class. I give him back his CD.
Me: “You’re right. My mind is totally blown. This was probably the most educational experience I’ve had this year. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of him until now.”
He’s looking at the CD and at his friends.
Him: “You actually listened to this?”
Me: “I assumed your taste in music would match your taste in books, so yes.”
And to this day, I can’t shake the image of his smile nor the day my student introduced me to Victor Wooten.
Grade 11 Student: “Sir, I looked it up like you told me. You’re right. The Battle of Evermore is totally about Lord of the Rings.”
Me: “See? Pretty cool, eh?”
Him: “Yeah. It’s just so trippy imagining him listening to Led Zeppelin.”
I laugh. He’s not laughing.
Me: “I have a bit more research for you to do.”
A Thing For Feet
Grade 10 Student: “Sir, you have nice feet.”
I look down at my sandals.
Her: “You should be a foot model.”
Me: “Thanks. I’ll take that as a compliment.”
Her: “Why wouldn’t you?”
Me: “Well, if someone comes up to you and says, ‘You should be a foot model,’ what’s the implication?”
Her: “You’re lazy and never walk?”
Me: “I’ll take the compliment.”
And Suddenly Halo
It’s after school and one of my grade 10s is moping around outside my room.
Me: “Hey, what are you still doing here?”
Him: “I was supposed to meet some friends.”
Me: “Where are they?”
Him: “I don’t know. Maybe they forgot?”
Me: “Why don’t you try their cell phones?”
He doesn’t look like he wants to try.
Me: “Hey, I’ve got a ton of marking to do. I can turn on the Xbox and you can hang here. Keep me company. Screw those guys.”
Grade 11 Student: “Sir, one of the other teachers told me you’re a fly-fisherman.”
Me: “When I’m lucky, yeah. But usually, I’m just a guy tossing a line in the water.”
Him: “Why fly-fishing? Isn’t spin casting easier?”
Me: “It’s not so much about catching fish for me. It’s about being out on the water, catching on to nature’s rhythms, forgetting everything for a few hours.”
Him: “You’re not married, are you?”