As a new teacher to the district many years ago, I was given a study hall to supervise in addition to my other teaching assignments. After placing all the students in what I thought would be problem free areas, everyone became quiet and began to work. I, too, began to grade papers. A few minutes later I was aware that a movement was occurring at a student's desk. I looked up to see him doing something on the desk that involved tapping his fingers and swinging his right hand outward. This disturbing motion had attracted much of the attention from the rest of the students. When I asked what he was doing, he said, "I am practicing my typing."
I admonished him to stop because it was distracting other students. I looked away and then rechecked him just in time to see him reach down on the floor beside his desk. Of course, I had to ask, "What are you doing now?"
His reply was, "I'm unplugging my typewriter."
Sandra Kaye Bailey
One day my principal, a former high school English teacher, was obervering my class while we were discussing the water cycle. I spoke about minerals deposits in water, stating that when there are few minerals, the water is soft. I asked the class, "What is it when water is hard?"
Without hesitation, a young lady confidently announced, "It's froze!"
My principal and I locked eyes, both trying desperately to keep a straight face, as I said, "You are correct; when water is frozen, it is hard, but 'hard water' means it has lots of minerals."
I got an excellent evaluation that day, along with a notation that I "carefully protected student dignity during class discussions."
Thomas Stahl, Georgia
One day during SSR (sustained silent reading) in my 7th grade English
classroom a cute little dark haired boy named Richie raised his hand after
looking over his report card and asked, "Mrs. Peters, what does
In the silent room, I answered, "That's another word for
Needless to say the room remained silent for only about 10 seconds more while the students contemplated what I had just said. Richie spoke up quickly and screamed, "Mrs. Peters, I
didn't know that you cuss!" and everyone laughed while I pleaded, "I don't!" Well, not in usually in class, anyway, I thought!
SSR ended in laughter that day!
Julie Peters, Missouri
I was teaching summer school for eighth graders who had not passed the state's reading comprehension test. I was stationed in a science classroom and it was filled with aquariums and terrariums each with it assortment of fish, lizards, and turtles.
With 15 minutes till lunch, we were working on a short story by Edgar Allen Poe when all of the sudden one student shouted out, "Hey look! The turtles are humping!" Sure enough, they were. All the students leaped up to watch this event of nature. Poe, as good as his writing is, just could not compete. Reading comprehension was gone, science/sex ed reigned, students were rapt, and the turtles were happy.
I was doing my student teaching in a smaller rural school. My 9th grade English classes had read
Romeo and Juliet
and were currently watching
West Side Story
. We had just viewed the first fight scene of the movie. I asked the students if they could tell me what it was called when two gangs fight.
In one of these classes, I had a young female student that was very quiet and shy. She never raised her hand or volunteered any information. To my surprise when I asked the above question she not only raised her hand she was really enthusiastic in wanting to be called on. I called on her expecting her to say that a gang fight was called a
. Instead she proudly informed me that a gang fight was called a
I was shocked speechless. I did not know what to say. The class erupted into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. The young girl was baffled. A fellow student explained the difference between the two things to her. Turning violently red, she ran out of the room.
This experience taught me to expect the unexpected.