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Linda Belcher Did A Stint As A Teacher

, , , , , | Learning | June 24, 2021

Back when I was in middle school, a group of boys apparently decided to start having “peeing contests”. In other words, they were trying to pee into the urinal from as far away as they could and were making a gross mess in the process. Initially, the school freaked out because they thought there was a leak, but the plumber they hired couldn’t find anything — a big financial hit, given how small the school was.

I’m not sure how, but eventually, one of the teachers figured out what was happening and our principal asked all of the teachers to make an announcement about it in their homerooms.

Teacher: *Very sternly* “Now, we don’t know who all is involved with this, but we know that some of you boys are playing a little ‘game’ in the bathroom, and it needs to stop immediately. It’s incredibly gross and you need to put your pee where it’s supposed to be!”

There was a slight pause and the tension in the room immediately dissolved as she realized the accidental rhyme she had just said to a bunch of very immature and now snickering eleven-year-olds.

Teacher: “Ah, jeez… You know what? You know what? I’m going to recreate that Uncle Sam poster and put ‘Put that pee where it’s supposed to be!’ on it and stick it over the urinal.”

And she did! It stayed there for the rest of that school year, and we never had another urine-related incident while I attended that school.

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Welcome To The Eco Chamber

, , , , , | Learning | May 28, 2021

I’m part of a panel of scientists giving a virtual guest lecture to a middle school. I’m talking about pollinators, and the class is pretty disengaged, but they get excited — and occasionally grossed out — when I pull out bat skeletons. After I explain the idea of coevolution, the teacher asks if anyone has questions and a number of hands light up on the screen. The teacher has introduced me as an ecologist and repeated that a few times.

Student #1: “Miss [My Name], is it called ecology because of the bats?”

Me: “No, ecology is a lot more than just bats! I used to study—”

Student #1: “So, what’s it called if they don’t echo?”

Me: “Oh… no, eco, not echo, like—”

Student #2: “Also whales and dolphins and sharks.”

Teacher: “[Student #1], you should call her—”

Student #3: “Sharks don’t echo. Except hammerheads.”

Me: “Yes— No, wait, no— It’s not… The prefix ‘eco’ means envir—”

Student #4: “’Eco’ means money like econom—”

The call goes silent; the teacher has used the “mute all” function.

Teacher: “Class, let’s ask our questions one by one. But [Student #1], you should call her Doctor [My Name], not Miss [My Name], because she’s a scientist and has a PhD.”

She unmutes the class and [Student #1] cuts back in.

Student #1: “—can’t be a very good doctor if all her bats are dead, though.”


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What A Bunch Of Animals

, , , , , | Learning | May 27, 2021

I’m on a panel of scientists giving a guest talk to a middle school. One of my colleagues is a zoologist. After introducing him, the teacher poses this question.

Teacher: “[Colleague] is a zoologist. Does anyone know what that means?”

Student #1: “Does he own a zoo?”

Colleague: “Not quite! You’re on the right track, though. Do you know what it means if we put ‘zoo’ in front of a word? What do you find in zoos?”

Student #1: “Peacocks?”

Colleague: “That’s a good example, but think more broadly! What do all zoos have that makes them zoos?”

Student #2: “Um… visitors who want to see the zoo?”

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They Don’t Have Any Wisdom To Remove!

, , , , , , | Learning | May 25, 2021

I teach sixth-grade science.

Student: “Miss! Have you gotten your wisdom teeth removed?”

Me: “Yes?”

My answer causes the student and his friends to start giggling.

Me: “Why is that so funny?”

Student: “Isn’t the phrase ‘getting your wisdom teeth removed’ code for ‘losing your virginity’?”

Me: “No, they do not mean the same thing! Why would you think so?”

Student: “Well, because both of those usually happen around the same time, so I thought…” *Shrugs and sits down*

Me: “No, they are two totally different things. Getting your wisdom teeth removed is having actual teeth removed from your mouth.”

Student: “Wait! Wisdom teeth are actual teeth?!”

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There’s A Truly Terrible Place In Hell For People Like This

, , , , , | Learning | May 22, 2021

When I was young, I was pretty well known as a smart kid with a smart mouth. I was also known as the super short girl who always had a book. Luckily, my class was pretty nice — we didn’t have nearly as many bullying problems as other grades — because I would’ve been an extremely easy target. But whenever someone did pick on me, it made my blood boil.

Toward the end of middle school, I was in the last book of a series I’d been reading for several months. A boy I didn’t talk to all that often walked up to where I was reading at my desk.

Boy: “What are you reading?”

Me: “[Book].”

Boy: “Have you read it before?”

Me: “No, this is my first time!”

Boy: “[Favorite Character] dies.”

My little eighth-grade self was ready for murder. Sadly, he was correct, and my favorite character died, but he was later granted his life back. For the rest of the year, I used a cloth cover on all of my library books so the boy wouldn’t be able to spoil them for me again.

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