First Day Experiences In Teaching
As everyone knows, teaching can be very rewarding. Watching students grow and become successful citizens is unlike any other profession. On the other hand, horror stories exist concerning the outrageous aspects of teaching an overcrowded classroom of over-stimulated hormone-laden teenagers.
Far too often one hears of these awful stories which illustrate the difficulty of dealing with the unruly and odder elements of our society. Teachers do indeed come face to face with many challenging situations, but perhaps the most difficult is when teachers need to not laugh out loud at the outlandish comments students make. And to make matters worse, the most bizarre comments are often made on the very first day of school.
Here, then, are some true stories from various teachers about the first day of school.
The Tooth Fairy
First day of school, I’m teaching pre-Kindergarten. I’m taking 22 four-year-olds on a tour of the campus. When we get back to our room, Jack Johnson asks through two missing front teeth, lisping in their absence, “When are we going to get to go to the tooth fairy?”
I patiently explain, “There are lots of great things at school, but not a tooth fairy.”
He persists. “Yes, I saw it! I want to go to the tooth fairy!” Jack is beside himself. Evidently, he’d really been looking forward to it.
Later that week, I take the kids to the library to check out a book. Jack turns to me smugly and retorts, “I told you there was a tooth fairy! It’s the place with all the books!”
(Say it in your head, and you’ll see how close they are “tooth fairy” “library”.)
First day of school at Jefferson Middle School, 8th grade science. A short, rotund, curly-headed young man walked in and said, “Hi, I’m Bob….I’m dylectic.” This was a very appropriate comment for a very dyslexic young man.
The first year I taught middle school, I asked the kids to get a small spiral notebook. I told them a 49 cent one would be just fine (you can tell how long ago this was). The next day a little girl came to me very upset. She said, “Mrs. Johnson, I couldn’t find a 49 cent spiral, but would a 52 cent spiral be OK?” (That was the obvious final price after tax.) I found out very quickly that I was going to have to adjust my thinking to deal with literal thinking middle schoolers.
On the first day of school a lost 6th grade student walks up to a teacher and mumbles, “um, can you tell me where computer reproduction class is?” He was looking for the computer productions class.
Older teacher have special issues
One year I had a student whose name I recognized. I told him I’d had his dad in class when his dad was a freshman here. The kid got this glazed look in his eyes, and then he said in apparent shock, “And you’re still ALIVE?!”
I had been a teacher for some twenty years before I finally got the job I really wanted, at my old high school from which I was graduated. A young man entered my room and came right up to my face and said, “My dad doesn’t like you and he tried to get me out of this class, but you’re the only one that teaches the stupid kids.”
I was teaching at a large Texas high school in the late Eighties. The school had a NATO air base nearby so I had students from all over the world in my AP Physics class. On the first day, a tall blonde headed boy walked in, looked me up and down and sat down with a look of disgust on his face. I had barely started the class when he interrupted me and said. “In Germany, the women do not teach the physics.” For the whole rest of the year, I made certain that when he had detention, he had to do “women’s” work.
The unfortunately named teacher
The very first period of my teaching career I was taking roll and a student eagerly raised his hand and said, “Mr. Cockson, Mr. Cockson, I got a question,” to the snickers of other students. I turned around and saw that, unbeknownst to me, a student made an adjustment to my name that I’d written on the board. In giant letters it said Mr. COCKson. I took the prime suspect out to the hall to question him. When I walked back into my classroom, flames were shooting out of the metal trashcan in the corner. True story of the first period on the first day of my career.
On the first day of school I was just a substitute. I wrote my name on the board and the kids looked confused. So I pronounced it for them saying, “My name is Mrs. Predenales.” I looked around hoping to receive all smiles and cheerful looks but all I saw was a sea of confusion. One student asks confusingly, “Huh?” They just couldn’t seem to get it, so I said, “You can just call me Mrs. P!” And the same student asks, “Really, we can call you that? Really?” To which I said, “Yes, everyone does, my name is hard to pronounce sometimes. People mix up the “r” and the “e” and it’s confusing. To which he asked again, “Are you sure you want us to call you that?” And again I said, “Yes of course!” He said, “Oookaaay.” So I started teaching what I was supposed to introduce to them and the same student raised his hand with a question and said very loudly, “Mrs. PIG, Mrs. PIG.” He actually thought that is what I had said!
Love conquers all
Last year on the first day of school a debate broke out about hickies. I’m not sure why, but hickies are still a great topic of discussion among teenage females. A gem of a child, being the sweet precious angel that she is, looked at me to settle the dispute and said, “No, but hickies are good. They mean you’re his. Right, Miss?”
You can’t fix stupid
I normally start the year by having a discussion about German speaking countries, their customs, traditions and cultures. That normally gets my students excited and interesting in the German language while allowing them to gain a little insight into their own culture and history. One year on the first day of school, a student asked, “um, Mr. um… anyway, doesn’t Germany have a little city with little buildings made just for midgets?” (I looked at him totally confused, which I believe he decided was total derision). He quickly try to recover from this obvious faux pas and stammered, “O, sorry. No, um, sorry, sorry, I meant little people.”