When I initially decided to become a teacher, I thought I was going to change the world one student at a time. I was excited to share my love of literature and writing with high school students and help them discover themselves and their talents. While I was in college and graduate school preparing to become a teacher, we learned how to teach writing and to help students analyze literature, but we were never taught how to make students laugh at corny English jokes or how to engage students on a personal level.
I am currently in my 3rd year of teaching and I pride myself in the relationships I have with my students. There are some I’m closer to than others, but at the end of the day, they’re all my kids. In my 3 years of teaching, there have been so many hilarious interactions with my students and colleagues. Below are my top 10 (so far):
- Is that a bee?
My first year of teaching, I taught mostly freshmen, a class of sophomores and yearbook. My first classroom didn’t have air conditioning and I was on the third floor (talk about heat rising). I always opened the windows to get some sort of breeze in and of course with fresh air, there are bees. When you put 25 kids in a steaming classroom and you add bees into the equation, something is liable to happen. Anyway, one day, a group of my freshmen were working when a bee wandered its way into the window. Needless to say, kids started freaking out. Arms were waved, books were swatted and a leg was kicked. This particular leg belonged to a male student and connected with the face of one of my female students. Not only did she get kicked in the face, but her glasses broke from the impact. It took everything in me to hold in my laughter and make sure the girl was okay. She was fine, but this is something I’ll never stop laughing about.
- Ten I See.
Looking like a student while being a teacher can be hard sometimes. I’m always asked what grade I’m in if I wear clothes from the school I teach at. Sometimes it’s flattering, but most of the time it kind of irritates me. Teaching high school students gets pretty interesting around Homecoming and Prom season. My first year, I was asked to Homecoming by 3 different kids (yikes), but lame pick up lines are my favorite. I never really had a good relationship with this particular student because he was always testing my patience or talking when I was. One day, in front of all of his classmates, after he could visible see I was getting irritated, he said, “Ms. Bell, are you from Tennessee because you’re the only ten I see.” I wanted to yell and reprimand him, but all I could do was laugh.
- Will you?
Not only do I get asked to dances, but sometimes, I get marriage proposals too. Nothing is more awkward than having two high school freshmen down on one knee asking you to marry them. Sometimes, I wish there was a camera in my room so that I could have seen just how awkward the situation was from the outside, because from the inside, I was mortified.
- Just call me Satan.
Also during my first year, I had a lot of issues with students. Some didn’t like the way I taught, some thought I was mean, others just really didn’t like me. One student in particular took it so far as to call me Satan. Don’t worry, we have a great relationship now, but back then, she hated my guts.
- Philosophical Questions.
One of my favorite aspects of teaching is getting to know my students and them getting to know a little about me. Throughout the year, I obviously get to know them a lot better and learn about different things that concern them. One day, I was posed this question: “Ms. Bell, why isn’t a group of squids called a squad?” I couldn’t answer it and all I could do was laugh. It was a valid question!Teaching at a Catholic school, there are always a number of non-Catholic students who have questions about different aspects of Catholicism. Although I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through 12th grade, I don’t know all there is to know about being Catholic. One day, after mass, a student asks me: “Ms. Bell, if communion is supposed to be Jesus, why isn’t the bread called Jes-its?” Another great question, but I don’t think the Catholic church wants their sacrament to be named after a salty snack.
- A Classic Narrative.
One of my favorite parts about teaching English is introducing new writing assignments and helping students unlock their potential with their words. At the beginning of each year, I typically have my students write a narrative. During my second year, my freshmen’s first narrative was to write about a struggle they’ve been through. Here is part of the intro from one of my student’s papers:
“Overcoming a challenge is one of the most difficult aspects of human life. Whether it is at home, work or school, the pressure seems to always be on us. Challenges can sometimes push us to work harder and strive to accomplish goals. However, tension of challenges can also overwhelm and stress us out. One of the hardest challenges in life is undeniably running out of toilet paper while using the restroom.”… pure comedy.
- Favorite Seniors, Ever.
During my second year of teaching, I got really close to a group of 3 seniors who I always referred to as “my ducklings.” These girls were always in my room and we always had the best relationship. One afternoon at the end of the school year, there was an announcement at the end of the day explaining that there had been an incident involving a red Hyundai (my old car) and a blue Jeep (my coworkers car) in the faculty parking lot. As soon as the announcement was over, I booked it outside to my car because I assumed a student had hit it. When I made it out to my car, it was COVERED in Post-It notes. There were hundreds of them. I was so relieved that my car was just plastered in sticky notes.
- You dropped something…
At the first school I taught at, every year the students got to partake in something called Intercession. Intercession was a teacher led educational trip or class that students did instead of going on Spring Break. My first year, I was fortunate enough to go to The Mediterranean. We traveled with a group of about 30 students and some parents to Italy, France and Spain. Our last day of the trip, we went to a beach in Barcelona and one of my students had a huge rock and he was tossing it between both of his hands. I told him that he needed to stop because someone was going to get hurt. Well, he dropped the rock… on my right foot. I will admit, initially this wasn’t a funny story because not only did I get a rock dropped on my foot on a beautiful beach, I had no idea it was broken for about a week after. I went to the doctor after being home a week, and got an x-ray because my foot was still killing me. As it turns out, my foot was fractured and I had to wear a boot AND crutches for 3 months. Not only did I hobble around in a boot and the occasional crutch, but my friends referred to me at “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.” Fun times.
- You’re pretty… ugly.
This year, I started at a new school and I struggled with getting to know them as well as I knew the students I had for two years at my old school. It’s now the middle of the year and my relationship just keeps getting better with my students, until about two weeks ago. I styled my hair a different way and one of my 6th bell students came in and said, “Ms. Bell, you look really nice today.” I proceeded to tell him thank you and then he asked, “Did you get a tan or something?” I told him no and that I had just put on make-up that day and he said, “Oh, that’s why.” Daaaaaaaang. First of all, I didn’t know I was THAT hideous without make-up on. He immediately started apologizing and I couldn’t help but laugh and continue giving him a hard time. I guess that’ll teach me to change it up.
- My biggest fear.
The last instance of something funny that a student has said or done to me also happened this year. I made the mistake of mentioning to my Journalism class, at the beginning of the year, that I was afraid of little people and clowns, among other things. This is the worst thing I could have EVER done. One morning, I walked into my classroom and turned on the lights and there were pictures of clowns and little people EVERYWHERE: on my bulletin board, my door, my chair, my tv, you name it. I had a mini panic attack and screamed and heard laughter from the hallway. Never, will I ever share my fears with a group of high school students. Looking back, it’s hilarious, but imagine walking into a dark classroom and seeing your worst fear. Who knew there was a such thing as a midget-clown?
To wrap everything up, teaching is such a rewarding experience. I not only teach my students, but I learn a lot from them too. Between the hundreds of student selfies that inhibit my phone and the love notes I have written on sticky notes all over my desk, I know that I am loved and a few of them appreciate me. So, whenever I’m having a bad day, or I’m struggling with reaching my students, I can look back on all of these memories and laugh… even if it’s just a little.
Thanks for reading!