Category Archives: humor

Feeding Teachers’ Souls

We escort our students to the buses at the end of every day. As we herded the sixth-graders down the long hallway this afternoon, I felt a pat on my back.

“You’re my buddy!” exclaimed T-Boy.

“Impossible!” I said. (T-Boy isn’t even in any of my classes. We simply speak to each other in the hall.)

“No, really!” he protested.

“I bet somebody paid you ten bucks to say that,” I said.


“Then it was a hundred. Don’t you think so?” I said, turning to Ms. K for corroboration.

“Empty your pockets,” I said to T-Boy. “Let’s see.”

“I think we should split that hundred dollars,” Ms. K said.

“No, really, I don’t have any money and nobody paid me,” T-Boy said.

We could tell that T-Boy was enjoying our playful banter, because he was smiling all the way to the bus.

These are the moments that feed teachers’ souls.

Summer School: Day 8

Kids’ stomachs are bottomless pits, so it was no surprise when this exchange took place in our classroom at least two hours before lunch:

S-Boy: What’s for lunch? I’m hungry!

Me: Recycled food.

S-Boy: Barf?

Me: Yeah, barf on toast.

Satisfied that some kind of lunch would be offered at the appropriate time, S-Boy went back to work.

Summer School: Day 7

The students were moving from one task to another, some of them (the ones who desperately need glasses) taking positions at tables close to the board. I was gesticulating to make a point when J-Boy walked in front of me—and my flailing hand whacked the tip of his nose.

“Are you all right?” I asked.

He nodded. “Yeah,” he said. (Not that he would have admitted to being injured—it’s a guy thing.)

“Are you sure?”


“Because I don’t want blood spurting all over the place.”

J-Boy smiled, still rubbing his nose.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” I said, “this is the first time ever in my career as a teacher that I have hit a student—and J-Boy is the lucky guy who got the first hit.”

The students cheered and applauded—even J-Boy—and then we all went back to work.

Sometimes the best way to handle life’s disruptions, disappointments and deadly assaults is with levity—because if you can’t laugh, you’re dead.

Laughing My Way?

I still have a staggeringly long list of things I have to do before I can turn in my keys and collect my final paycheck on Tuesday. One of them is to make sure that I’ve administered the Brigance Diagnostic Test of Essential Skills to each of my students. It’s an instrument that helps measure academic progress (or in some cases, regress) from the beginning of the year to the end. Our special ed department requires it for each student with an IEP.

One section of the test asks students to read aloud and give the meaning of common abbreviations: Mr., Dr., lb., oz., and so forth. (Oh, etc. is part of the list too!) When F-Boy reached some unfamiliar abbreviations in the list, he didn’t stumble or say, “I don’t know.” He made up his own meaning:

DOBDrunk on Bus (No buses around here, but plenty of drunks. Sadly.)
POprobation officer (F-Boy’s definition makes perfect sense in this and other low-income communities, but it’s not what the creators of the Brigance had in mind, which is post office.)
sq. ft.squat on feet (Sounds like instructions for using an Asian-style toilet.)
sq. in.squat inside (Don’t relieve yourself outside, go inside!)
cu. in.cut into (I don’t want to know into what.)
ml Miller Lite (No surprise. F-Boy was arrested a few weeks ago for possessing beer on campus.)

Even though we recently experienced a terrible tragedy at our school, I couldn’t help but laugh as F-Boy gave me his unique perspective on abbreviations. F-Boy has been a thorn in my side all year, but he redeemed himself in my eyes (although not in the administration’s eyes—he’s ending the year in ISS) the last couple of days of school by giving me the gift of laughter.

Now, if I can just keep laughing my way through the dozen or more things I still have to check off my to-do list before I can turn in my keys and get my final paycheck…

When Will They Ever Learn?

I am sitting at my desk with my online grade book open. D-Boy walks behind me and peers at the monitor.

“Hey!” he yelps. “Why did you give me a C?”

“I didn’t give you anything,” I reply.

“Yeah, you did,” he says. “You’re the one with the keyboard.” (Irrefutable logic, right?)

I laugh and say, “What goes in the grade book is what you earn. If you do C work, you get a C. If you do A work, you get an A. If you don’t do any work at all, then your grade goes in the toilet.”

And somewhere in my brain the refrain of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” starts playing:

When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

‘Old Speckled House Fart’

To save running to the copier, which is a far hike from my classroom, I write most of my quizzes on the board. I always say to my students, “Don’t waste your time copying the questions. I just need the answers.” And I always have one student who ignores me and copies the questions anyway. Unfortunately, he never fails to transcribe several words wrong.

Today’s quiz on Sing Down the Moon included this question: “What did they use the old speckled horse for?”

The kid who always writes the questions, despite my repeated injunctions not to, rendered the question this way: “What did they use the old speckled house fart?”

He even managed to supply an answer—which made no more sense than his question!

Because one picture is worth a thousand words, I’m tempted to ask him to draw an accurate representation of an old speckled house fart.

‘When Did You Get a Raise?’

In-services are not my favorite way to spend early-release-for-the-students days. After the students are on the buses, I’d rather retreat to my classroom to plan lessons and get my materials in order.

However, today’s district-wide in-service was bearable—mostly because the other middle school special ed teacher and I were allowed to meet with the guided-reading coach to strategize ways to ensure our students’ reading success, instead of enduring whatever whole-group activity was going on in the cafeteria.

The best part of the afternoon happened post-event in the parking lot as we were getting into our cars. I told Teacher One that I was tired and hoped tomorrow would be a better day.

“Another day, another dollar,” Teacher One said.

“When did you get a raise?” Teacher Two said, feigning indignation.


Surviving Middle School

Ms. M., the teacher in the classroom next to mine has, by her own admission, a quirky sense of humor. Recently she took a personal day to go to the funeral of a friend who had died after a long illness.

“How’s everything?” the principal asked Ms. M, when she returned to school the day after the funeral.

“Well, my friend’s still dead, if that’s what you mean,” Ms. M said.

It takes a weird sense of humor to survive—and thrive—in middle school.