As always, here are some of my favorite moments from inside the classroom this past year …
“I ain’t stole shit! I just took his money!” is his next defense
Exasperated with the football star in my eighth period class, I calmly tell him one day that his behavior is, in a word, “awful.”
Indignant, he yells, “My behavior isn’t awful! All I do is talk all period.”
Digest that defense for a minute. The rest of the class didn’t need a minute; they burst out laughing immediately.
I tell the kid, “Not only do you talk all period, but your language is atrocious. You curse nonstop.”
Again indignant, he yells, “I do not curse all period! I never curse in class!” He’s dead serious.
More disbelieving laughter. He angrily pops on his headphones and starts working. He’ll show me, goshdarnit. Bobbing his head to the music, two minutes later he starts to sing out loud. The first words I hear? The Deuce lyrics “… suckin’ dick straight from the men’s bathroom.”
I yell, “I thought you didn’t curse?”
His stellar defense #3? “’Suckin’ dick’ ain’t cursin’! Fuck!”
And then I have to take my dad to Chuck E. Cheese after his soccer practice
The AP Literature kids are working away one morning when a really nice girl checks her phone and says, “Damn it! I hate my dad sometimes!”
I ask her, “You in trouble?”
She replies with disgust, “No, he wants me to do his fucking college math homework again.”
Ain’t like I even gonna read the recommendation you write anyway
A personable, but dopey senior is about to take a county assessment test in the computer lab. Before we begin, he asks me, “Yo, Bitt. You get a chance to fill out that online recommendation for [shitty Division III] college yet?” I tell him I’ll take care of it as soon as I get home that night. Two minutes later he clicks on “Begin Test” and a five-paragraph reading passage pops up. He whines, “Oh my god, this is like [counts with finger pressing on monitor … I shit you not … picture it] five paragraphs! I ain’t readin’ all dat!”
To which I reply, “Said the kid who just asked me to recommend him to a college.”
Mr. Honesty replies, “C’mon Bitt, I’m just goin’ to that college to play more football. I ain’t tryin’ to learn nothin’ there. You know I don’t read.”
“Do you know what race you are?” “No, cuz I don’t have a mirror with me.”
Seniors are in the same computer lab typing up their resumes for their senior portfolios. I notice one kid has nothing but asterisks where his address should be. I say, “What’s up with your address? Why all the asterisks?”
He says, “I don’t know it.”
I say, “Oh, did you just move or something?”
He says, “No, I been lived there [sic] since I was eight but the address is in my phone and I don’t have my phone with me so I can’t put my address cuz I can’t look it up.”
I think he’s also a member of the “National On-Her Society”
Another kid is listing his accomplishments on his resume, one of which is being named every quarter to the “Honnorow.” As in Honor Roll. As in that should tell you how valid this whole honor roll thing is.
Not sure if it’s the same kid who last year drew a picture of Christ with the caption, “Jesus is my nigga!”
The librarian is promoting this program where the kids come to the library to make cardstock bookmarks, which then get sent to some organization that will donate a dollar per bookmark to some literacy or hunger campaign or something. I think it was in Malawi. So some teachers, sensing an easy day, take their classes to the library so the kids can design bookmarks all period. (Yes, this is a high school I’m talking about. Instead of learning grammar, they’re doing arts and crafts.) One old teacher walks around monitoring his kids’ progress and sees this literacy-inspiring message on a bookmark: “Read, nigga … read!”
Teacher says, “I don’t think you’re going to be able to submit that one.”
The kid says very seriously, “Oh, I no. This one is for me.”
Yeah, and I want that muh’fu’er written in English and on white paper and shit, too, you feel me, cuz?
I spend twenty minutes going over a big analytical essay assignment after we finish a novel. I talk about author’s purpose, novel structure, diction, syntax and all those other highfalutin’ English class terms that measure this so-called higher level thinking bullshit. The bell rings and a really nice kid asks me on the way out of class, “So let me make sure I got this right: you want this essay done with, like, correct spelling and good grammar and shit, right?”
Our graduation rate was 100 percent again, so I guess he passed those classes … whatever they were
Kid looks at his interim report and says to his friend, “Fuck … I’m failing classes I didn’t even know I was taking.”
Said the future city bureaucrat
A senior boy blows through a county assessment test in five minutes by answering “A” for every item, then sleeps the rest of the period. On the way out I hear him say to no one in particular and with complete satisfaction, “Man, I sleep better in school than I do at home.”
Someone should come up with a way for a woman to please a man without intercourse … “They got that, too! It’s called …”
Four or five kids are discussing last year’s graduates. I overhear them say, “Brionna pregnant … Desiree already had a little boy … Renee just found out she’s pregnant.”
I say very seriously, “Someone should invent something where people can have sex and not get pregnant.”
One kid, obviously lacking a sarcasm detector, seizes on this teach-the-teacher moment and yells back, “They got that, Bitt! Condoms!”
Instead of alerting him to my sarcasm, I say, “Well, then someone should come up with something where if you get pregnant you can do something to not have the baby.”
Same kid, again at maximum decibel level, “They got that, too, Bitt! Abortion!”
I’ll see your “Teacher’s first name derision” and raise you one “Your mom’s a whore” joke. Okay, your move? What? Huh? I can’t hear you?
I hand a kid his lie-filled letter of recommendation. Before he expresses his gratitude for my time, effort and powers of fabrication, he sees my name at the bottom and yells, “Damn! Your first name’s ‘Ned’?” He then proceeds to laugh hysterically. And derisively. “Ned … oh man, what a name. I feel bad for you, Bitt. Ned!”
When he winds down, I say, “I thought you’d have known my name already, what with how often you hear your mom screaming it from her bedroom twice a week.”
Hold the door, Satan! I’m almost there!
I mention something about how much I detest litterers. A girl proudly volunteers that when she is finished with McDonald’s food, she throws everything out the window. After I express my disgust, I stammer, “Oh my … god … how can you do that? It’s so … it’s … I’d rather you throw a live baby out the window instead of all that trash!”
Appalled, the kids ask what the fuck is wrong with me.
I explain, “At least a baby is biodegradable.”
Hell better have some fast-ass Internet service to make this shit worth it
I tell the class about that star-crossed college basketball player who lost his mother and two siblings in one plane crash then lost his dad and stepmother in another plane crash several years later. Afflicted with a cold, I hate the universe, so I throw in, “I hope he was at least enrolled in the Frequent Die-er Program.” Amazingly, three quarters of the class can’t help but laugh. I hum an internal dirge for another piece of my soul.
At least I’ll have some great company during my eternal damnation
Two ridiculously smart AP students are discussing something near my desk before class. When one says that “We need another genocide” to fix some world problem, the other kid says, “When has genocide ever satisfactorily solved a problem?”
The Junior Hitler yells, “It almost solved the Jewish problem!”
His friend says, “Good point.”
If I had the means, I’d pay for both of their college educations, such is my love for those two wits. (Oh, settle down. They were being humorous.)
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.