There’s Something About That Substitute

, , , , , | Learning | June 8, 2018

(My classmates and I are about ten or eleven years old. Our band teacher is absent for the day, so we have a substitute, a young guy somewhere in his twenties. The classroom has a TV and DVD player that the teacher uses to show us music performances. The sub offers to let us vote on a movie to watch, which he brought with him. The majority chooses “There’s Something About Mary,” a film I hadn’t even heard of. Being naive and rather innocent, all of the adult and raunchy humor flies right over my head, leaving me mostly confused. At the end of the day I go my mom’s office; she works at the school.)

Mom: *working at the computer* “So, did anything interesting happen today?”

Me: “Not really. We got to watch a movie in band, since the teacher was sick.”

Mom: “Oh? What did you watch?”

Me: “It was weird; its name was something about Mary.”

Mom: *pauses in her work and turns to look at me*There’s Something About Mary?”

Me: “Yeah, that sounds right. I didn’t get what was happening, but the other boys thought it was funny.”

Mom: *fuming* “Do you know the substitute’s name?”

Me: *feeling her anger, and getting nervous* “Uh, no. I don’t remember his name. He was young, long hair, glasses…”

(She stood up and stormed out of the room, directly to the principal’s office. Apparently, I got the guy fired and banned from being hired by the district as a sub. Even today, I feel kind of bad for costing the guy his job. I swear, I was not intentionally tattling!)

A Poetic Injustice

, , , , | Learning | May 10, 2018

(For one English class, when we start the poetry unit, the teacher arranges the chairs into a circle around the room facing the middle instead of the usual rows. We are told to just sit in “any of the chairs.” Immediately thinking of a loophole, I sit in the teacher’s chair behind her desk instead of one of the chairs arranged in the circle. A few of the students start laughing.)

Teacher: “How does sitting in the chair feel?”

Me: “Horrible! I’m feeling underpaid and underappreciated! I think I’ll deal with my frustration by forcing innocent children to suffer by teaching poetry.”

Color Me Kind

, , , , , | Hopeless | April 24, 2018

I had to start fifth grade in a new school in a new city. My new school was six times bigger than my old school, and it was overwhelming. My mother had left an abusive situation that spring, and we had to start all over with no support. We only moved to the area a few weeks before classes started, and with very little money for necessities, let alone anything else, I went to school with a nearly empty backpack and a promise that she’d get my supplies as soon as she could.

A couple of weeks passed, and it must have become obvious that my mother was not going to be able to provide all of my supplies in a timely manner. Meanwhile, homework was starting to be due, and I was running out of what little I had. One day I opened my desk to see a couple of cute notebooks — with pink paper! — some name-brand colored pencils, and other basic supplies. I found out that my teacher and the teacher’s aide had quietly taken it upon themselves to buy what I needed.

After that year, we moved halfway across the country and I’ve never been able to find that teacher online to tell her how things turned out. It’s been several years now. I have a college degree, a family of my own, and the finances to pay it forward, which I do any chance I get. I will always remember that act of kindness.

Look Who’s Talking

, , , , , | Learning | April 23, 2018

(I’m a middle school teacher. For our novel study at the end of the year, I have students do vocabulary periodically throughout the book. I tell students that today we’ll be doing vocabulary.)

Student: “Vocabulary is for nerds.”

Me: “Without vocabulary, you wouldn’t talk, so I guess you’re a nerd.”

April School’s

, , , , , | Learning | April 21, 2018

I went to a small middle school in a small-ish building. One year on April Fool’s day, my class decided to play a prank on our science teacher.

Before class, we snuck in and left a note on his overhead projector saying that we had unanimously decided to skip his class. We then left a trail of paper footprints going down the stairs, through the gym, and up into the drama closet, which held costumes, props, and the like.

We all crowded in and waited. When he got close to the closet, we ran up through the drama classroom, and back down the stairs and into the science classroom, stifling giggles the whole way. When he threw open the door to the closet and roared, trying to startle us, he found it empty. When he got back to his classroom, we were all sitting at the tables like perfect angels.

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