Ah, teaching. With enough practice in the craft, it brings out the best in us. Occasionally it’ll bring out the worst in us. But no matter whether you teach kindergartners or spring semester seniors, teaching will definitely bring out the weirdest in us.
Since I started teaching, I’ve tacked up a poster in every new classroom that says “Be nice. Work hard. Stay Weird.” Here are just a smattering of ways I’ve found myself living by those words since starting on this delightfully abnormal journey:
Made this poster.
I’m a big fan of showing up at my students’ games, concerts, and other events with homemade posters. This one is supposed to say “I heart orca-straw” (orchestra), but the first time I held it up after a concert my student paused and, after careful thought, said, “…You love whale juice?” I still haven’t recovered.
Had custom piñatas made that were essentially giant gray balls.
In my rookie years when I got a grant for a class set of The Hunger Games, I tried to think of a good enrichment/culminating activity and landed on tracker jacker “nest” piñatas. What connection did this have to actual learning, you ask? Roughly zero. But it was crazy fun, highly memorable, and I got some very puzzled looks from the artisans at the piñata shop.
Dressed up as… everything.
Katniss Everdeen. Scout Finch. Moby from BrainPop. Ms. Frizzle. Princess Leia.
Mispronounced “a slimy rock cod” in the worst way possible while reading Amy Tan’s short story “Fish Cheeks” out loud to seventh graders.
I don’t want to talk about it.
Fixed my broken pants by having a student teacher help me staple the hip seam back together.
There is no such thing in teaching as, “Can I go home? My pants are broken.” There was a LOT of laughing that day. (Just so we’re clear, the staple thing was her idea and she volunteered as tribute.)
Held a class wall-sit competition to give students the illusion of power.
Listen. I wanted my students to read a short story for homework, so I told them if I beat every single student in a wall-sit competition, they had to read the story one night, and if one of them won, they’d get two nights to read it. Here’s the thing: I didn’t really care if it took one night or two. In the end, we all got what we wanted: they were delighted to beat me at something and win what felt like extra time, I got them to read the short story, and we all strengthened our quads (cross-curricular learning!). A couple minutes of wall-sits in exchange for total buy-in and relationship building? Worth it. Although I haven’t done it since because my legs were barely functional for the next three days.
Witnessed a swarm of termites come flying out of a hole in my wall during tutorials.
It was highly exciting.
Said, “I don’t mean to infringe on your personal beliefs, but cannibalism is discouraged in my class.”
I’m not here to judge. I am, however, here to redirect students who gnaw on each other’s arms. Also, if you don’t already keep a running Word document of all the weird things you find yourself saying every day, I highly recommend you start.
Had to institute official classroom regulations on farting and singing songs from Frozen.
We welcome singing and normal bodily functions in my class, provided that the bodily functions do not take on a competitive edge and that the singing does not threaten the sanity of other students.
Given away the world’s weirdest stickers.
One of the only extrinsic rewards I believe in are these disarmingly weird stickers. They’re not for high grades or perfect attendance. Just whenever I think a student could use a child’s foot, a locust, or a bowl of herbed yogurt. You can grab (and stick) your own by ordering one from Amazon here.
Trusted middle schoolers with magnet poetry.
The best poem I’ve found to date: Beloved, please microwave my codpiece. I actually didn’t know what a codpiece was until I found this poem. Then I Googled it. And then I removed it from my magnet poetry collection.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done as a teacher? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers Chat group on Facebook.
Plus, hilarious teacher fails.