As always, here are some of my favorite moments from inside the classroom this year …
Perhaps Guidance Has Misplaced You, Vol. 1
Date found in the top right corner of a student’s paper: Octember 3, 2013.
This student is in an honors class.
Perhaps Guidance Has Misplaced You, Vol. 2
Seniors were filling out the form on which they indicate how they want their name called at graduation and how they want it written on their diploma. A sweet, young girl asked hesitantly, “Mr. Bitters, can I please text my mom? It’s about my middle name.”
Me: “Why? Do you need to check to see if she wants to hear your middle name or middle initial at graduation?”
Girl: “No, I have to ask her how to spell it.”
This student is an AP class.
“It Is Not A World of Men.” – Ricky Roma in Glengarry Glen Ross (“It,” in this case, being the education profession.)
One day I find myself checking out the 2014 calendar. I see that Christmas falls on a Thursday next year. I start to fret that we will probably have to go to school through Tuesday, the 23rd (the indignity!), instead of having almost a week off before Christmas like this year. I start to resent that we’ll have to work a whole day and half that week. I’m actually getting pissed. Then I console myself with the realization that we won’t have to go back to work until January 5th.
When is all of this stewing over the length of next year’s Christmas break taking place? December 10th at 11:45 a.m.
Ahead of me on this day, I have a one-hour, duty-free lunch, followed by a 48-minute planning period. My day will end at 2:15. The previous day we were off school because of a half inch of snow. The day before that? A two-hour late arrival and a two-hour early dismissal due to an ice storm. Starting December 20, I will have a 17-day Christmas vacation. Life at work is good, and yet there I was, already worried about next year.
Those Who Can, Do. Those Who Can’t, Teach. Those Who Want to Collect Obscene Amounts of Money for Spewing Bullshit, Become Professional Education Consultants
Our county is always bringing in big-name (at least in education circles) consultants to present at in-service sessions. They don’t come cheap because these are the best of the best, the uber-prepared, whip-smart denizens of the vaunted Cutting Edge. They no doubt spend countless hours preparing for the scintillating presentations that cause a virtual sea-change our county’s educational dynamic.
Which is why I found it so intriguing when one high-priced presenter said the following not two minutes into her obscenely well-compensated half-day session with the county’s English teachers: “On the way over here today, I was thinking about how to approach this.”
Thanks so much for your efforts. Here’s your check.
Oh, THAT moron.
Kid: “Mr. Bitters, I won’t be here Thursday ’cause I’m doing job shadowing!”
Me: “What moron is going to let you job-shadow them?”
Kid: “Mrs. Hendricks!”
As in Mrs. Hendricks, the vice-principal. Hopefully, he’s too dimwitted to remember to share this little exchange with Mrs. Hendricks.
“Our First Fundraiser Will Be to Raise Money for Glitter and a Pole.”
A second-year, middle-aged teacher, disgusted by the coarse, crude behavior of some of our more ill-raised male cretins, decided to be proactive and start a new club where he could teach these misogynistic knuckle-draggers how to behave like upstanding young men. It was a noble, well-intentioned idea. He wrote up an enthusiastic recruitment pitch to be read all week on the daily announcements.
But like I said, the guy’s new at the job, which means he still has an endearing innocence about him. What did he call this new club that would make men out of boys and teach them how to conduct themselves with class, respect and dignity, especially when dealing with women?
The Monroe High School Gentlemen’s Club.
I’m not sure how many boys signed up, but I did hear a rumor that a decent amount of big-breasted, skinny, skanky types showed up looking for paid positions in said club.
Wait Until They Ask Me To Draw A Map of Pussy-vania
After Nelson Mandela died, the kids were asking about South Africa. Confusion ensued. Is that a continent? Is that in South America? What’s the difference?
Seizing upon this teachable moment, I take marker to hand and approach whiteboard. I vow that these kids will learn at least one thing today, damnit. I do a rough drawing of North and South America, then proceed across the Atlantic Ocean and hastily draw Africa. Too hastily, I should add. Once I complete Africa, I mark off South Africa down at the tip. I step back to admire my work, confident that education has once again been made dynamic in Room T-2.
And what do I see? Not a perfect rendering of the Dark Continent. Nope. I see a perfect depiction of a big thick hanging cock beneath one mighty, meaty ballsack instead. My Africa was the perfect profile of a set of man-parts. What’s worse (or better?), I had even created the nice little tip of said cock with my South Africa boundary.
Of course, every kid in the room saw the same thing at the same time, which meant 90 seconds of nonstop laughter. And now many of them will forever see Africa as the cock-shaped continent and South Africa as the head of the cock. You’re welcome, Mr. Mandela.
Why Trent Is One of My Favorite Students, Exhibit A
I am teaching grammar one day when I ask, “Okay, who knows when you use a colon?”
Trent, one of my favorite kids, says drily, “When I poop.”
Why Is Trent One of My Favorite Students, Exhibit B
All seniors have to write a corny career essay for their senior portfolios. It’s the most blah-blah-blah assignment they do all year. Trent, instead of giving me the usual double-spaced, font-size 12 bullshit about why he wants to work in the recording industry (“… cuz i love listening to music …”), wrote a beautifully venomous essay explaining why college was overrated and unnecessary for success.
At the end, he included a little addendum for me. It read:
“Listen Bitt, we both know that anyone can write a bullshit essay about how great college is and how it will make you a better citizen. I mean, just look at all the other essays you had to suffer through. I just wrote it like this to show you that I can write a pretty decent persuasive essay about anything and also to spare you having to read one more boring-assed ‘I want to go to college so that I can do great in my career’ paper. Just so it’s clear, I do plan to attend college because I do think it’s an important stepping-stone in life. So, if you need me to write on of those ‘real’ essays, just let me know. I can shit one of those out in like two seconds.”
I’m sure he’ll use a colon in there somewhere.
Ned Bitters teaches high school and dreams of one day seeing one of his former students on stage at a strip club. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.