Top 10 things you should NEVER say as a teacher.

November 5, 2013

OVERHEARD IN THE LIBRARY: (Student) “Mr Alford, I basically think that my brother and I get along so well because it takes way too much energy for us to hate each other. Its kind-of a lazy relationship.”

I went to my 10-year high school reunion a little while back (by ” little while back” I mean “back when Bill Clinton was president and Boyz To Men were still Boyz”), and we all sat around asking the same questions, like:

Where do you live now?
Are you married?
What happened to all your hair?

And then the conversation got around to “the big one”: So what do you DO?

Its a question that always strikes me as funny. Maybe its because the things that pop into my head as possible answers are not what people are really looking for:

“Do? I unload the dishwasher. A lot. Also I do laundry and take care of car problems”

I know, they mean my JOB! Oh, THAT!! Yeah, I do that too.

So its always funny when I tell people that I’m a teacher.  Because when you’re a “teacher”, it means you give us “tests”. And call our “parents”. And sometimes you’re “disappointed in us.” Honestly, tell someone that you’re a “teacher” (enough “quotation marks” for today?) and they suddenly remember what it was to be a student.

It made me realize how important it is to take care of that responsibility. You know- DON’T make fun of your students and all that. It made me realize that anything I say as a teacher can be taken by a student, rolled around, baked in the oven at 350 degrees, cooled on a rack, and served up to be stored in that former student’s memory where it can come back when least expected (like during their wedding or at Thanksgiving dinner). Teachers are POWERFUL!!! Behold the mighty teacher!

So we need to be careful with what we say.  With this in mind, I give you for your consideration a list (in no particular order) of things that teachers should probably NEVER say in class:

  1. “Don’t think of this as an exam. Think of it as…the rest of your life.”
  2. “I’ve decided to grade on a color scale. Everyone wearing green today gets an A.”
  3. “Sorry, were you talking to ME during that presentation? I must have dozed off.”
  4. “Have you considered a career as an oxygen thief?
  5. “Why do I assign all this homework, you ask? Well, I need SOMETHING to start up my wood stove.”
  6. “Write the answer to the extra credit question on the back of a 20 dollar bill and leave it on my desk when you’re finished.”
  7. “For homework tonight, I have assigned you all to do my Christmas shopping. If you use Amazon Prime it should save you some money.”
  8. From now on we have a new policy here at the Academy. Starting this year, teachers will vote on who gets to graduate. Start campaigning.”
  9. “Johnny, it might be better if you came to class LESS.”
  10. “Come on in and sit down but don’t touch anything. My classroom might be a crime scene by this time tomorrow.”

Not that I have actually SAID any of these things. But hey, teachers gotta dream too, right?


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