Do you need a good laugh? If there’s one thing you can count on as a teacher, it’s running into funny situations in the classroom. It can be therapeutic to sit back and reflect on all the good memories, especially in the midst of a stressful, busy season.
This post is Part 2 in a collaborative series. Click here to read the first article in the sequence.
It was a hot day on the third floor in my non-airconditioned building (a first-world problem, for sure). Teachers were dripping with sweat as they attempted to carry on like normal, students staring at them blankly, trying to hear over the loud drone of nearly ten box fans in every classroom. On this particular day, I wore a dress…to keep cool, or as comfortable as possible anyway. As I walked down the hallway at the end of my prep period after using the restroom, one of my coworkers peeked her head out her doorway and burst out laughing.
“Um, is that a wardrobe malfunction?” she asked me.
Clueless, I responded, ” What? What are you talking about?”
“You tucked your dress into your…!”
Quickly (and out of sheer mortification), I whipped around and went to untuck it, when she laughed, “No, in the front!!!”
Sometimes crazy things happen in the classroom (or the hallway). Often times, teachers are the origin of these amusing situations, and other times these moments are created during interactions with students. Case in point, when I teach students about critical reading lenses, one of the terms we study is feminism. I always ask students to define the term for me as a short pre- and post-assessment. The responses I received from one particular group had me in stitches all day. Among the most amusing answers…
- Feminism is eating too much food at the same time. It kills your lungs and makes it hard for your system to work right. It can also cause heart cancer and deadly flus. This is not what you want to have because of its harmful bacteria.
- I believe feminism is when there are too many fans, like at a concert or something. Feminism is a disease caused by watching too much concerts. A lot of people don’t have feminism. A lot of people can get it though.
- Feminism is a person with less body hair or hasn’t matured fully. Feminism is when your voice isn’t as deep or as high as others. Sometimes it runs in your blood. Feminism comes in everybody, but most people can hide it.
Regardless of how they are generated, comedic events keep it real. They make our jobs more enjoyable, and they lighten the mood. In keeping with The Tonight Show’s Top 10 Lists, I’ve joined together with a group of educators who don’t take themselves too seriously to present you with The Top 10 Entertaining (yet appropriate) Tales from Our Classrooms. Drumroll, please!
#10: When you fall off a chair…
“When you give standardized assessments, do you have to take all of your posters and student work off of your walls? In our school system, this is a requirement. Once when I taught middle school, I was excited to get my displays back on my bulletin boards after testing. So, as students completed their silent sustained reading, I stood on a classroom chair (I am only 5’1’’) to post my displays. Somehow though, I lost my footing and ended up falling onto the floor. My ankle hurt, but I was too embarrassed to show my pain. Suddenly, one of my boys peered over this desk and looked down at me, asking, “Mrs. Patrick, are you okay?” Years later, he sent me a postcard thanking me for teaching him and for the memory of my fall, which he said he would never forget!”
#9: When your substitute turns into your husband…
“My husband and I work at the same school, and one afternoon he had to leave for meetings, so he had a substitute scheduled to teach his music classes. By the time my afternoon classes rolled around, I had completely forgotten that he was even gone. I was reading out loud to my class, circulating around the room, when an older woman walked into my classroom, handed me a stack of test reports, and loudly said, “I’m your husband for today.” She turned around and left my classroom, leaving my students and me staring at each other in confusion. It took me a few seconds to understand what she meant (and honestly I’m still a little confused because my husband doesn’t deliver writing papers as a music teacher), but by the time I realized that she was my husband’s substitute teacher, I had caught a case of the giggles. I had been trying to teach my students that it is not necessary to react to everything that happens, so I tried desperately not to laugh, but it was to no avail. I had to turn class reading time to independent reading time that day because I couldn’t read out loud without laughing at how confused I had been.”
#8: When you’re so short you’re dubbed a hobbit…
“I am only 5’2” and I teach high school, so I usually get a lot of jokes and comments about my height. The two that stick out the most are these: 1.) It was the first day of class and I was going over expectations, but trying to make it interactive. I brought up the rule to “respect the property of others” and asked for examples of how to do that. One student raised his hand and answered “Not putting things where you can’t reach them.” 2.) Another time, I had a few students who, because of my height, teased me about being a hobbit. I love Lord of the Rings so I went a long with it. One of them made a sign for me that said, “Ms. Baggins’ Room: The Shire.” I hung it up on my bulletin board; I may even still have it somewhere!”
#7: When you name your child after a student…
“I have a challenging student named Nathan. Not a go-to-the-office every day sort of challenging student, but more of a “You’re driving me crazy, Nathan!” kind of challenging student. About a week before I went out on maternity leave last fall, Nathan asked me what I was having and what I was naming the baby. Everyone got a laugh when I said: “I’m having a baby boy, and we’re naming him Nathan.” After I came back it’s been a daily thing where Nathan asks how little Nathan is doing.”
#6: When your students think you belong in a hospital…
“I had a student ask me why I was working in a school and not a hospital because I’m a doctor. This was a senior mind you. He thought I was an M.D. We explained there was more than one type of doctor…I still don’t think he bought. He thought I was in witness protection!”
#5: When you have to define a simple term for the 1,000 time…
Student: “Can we use words that end in ‘-ly’?”
Me: “Are you asking me if you are allowed to use adverbs?”
Student: “What’s an adverb?”
#4: When you’re mistaken for someone’s mom…
“My students always get me mixed up with other teachers or their parents. On any given day, I get called “Mr. X”, “Mrs. X”, “mom”. The list is endless. My standard reply is “Actually, I prefer Ms. M, but thanks!” This usually gets the class laughing and wondering how I was mistaken for another teacher. At 5′ 9″, I am one of the tallest female staff members at my school – I don’t often get mistaken for other staff members among the adults – just my students.”
#3: When your clumsiness turns a rockstar lesson into a metaphor…
“My semester of student teaching still takes the cake as the most memorable. I was teaching in NC and had a class of senior remedial kiddos. Determined to challenge and encourage them, I taught a unit on poetry and the Harlem Renaissance. While teaching the poem “Incident” by Countee Cullen, I leaned back on an empty desk to reflect on the irreparable damage suffered by the speaker. I talked about how, despite all the amazing things he experienced, this one, harsh interaction would be what stuck with him. Right in the middle of my pontificating, the desk I leaned on scooted out from under me and I toppled head over heels to the floor. As I stood up to collect myself (and pretend it never happened), one of my more quiet students raised his hand. “Miss Rush,” he started. “I think what happened in the poem is kind of like you just falling down.” I cringed but encouraged him to continue. “You know,” he said, “It’s like of all the stuff you taught us this year, you falling down right now is the part we’ll remember the most.” Part of me wanted to leave the room right then, but the better part of me shot my fist into the air and said, “Yeah! It is exactly like that.” You gotta love when they “get it”…no matter how the point gets across.”
#2: When an unintended malaprop creates a stir…
“When teaching “The Ransom of Red Chief” to my eighth graders, I assign a writing prompt asking if Bill and Sam ought to be prosecuted for kidnapping the little boy in the story. One year I had a very sweet and innocent girl write an entire two-page paper about how Bill and Sam ought to be “prostituted” for their actions. It was a very nice paper, but I had to pull her aside and explain that the word she had written was not “prosecuted.” The poor thing was mortified!”
#1: When your historical context lessons go awry…
“I teach the bubonic plague as part of my introduction to Shakespeare. On an essay question, a student recounted the “blue bonnet plague” that killed so many in England. I laughed, but I was also concerned that a student thought headwear had so much power!”
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of the funny highlights from our teaching experiences. What’s your favorite classroom story? Share it with us in the comments! Laughter is good for the soul.
This post is the second of an inspirational collaborative series for teachers. The entire series includes:
- In Defense of Teachers: Do We Really Have Our Summers Off?
- Top 10 List: The Craziest Thing Happened in the Classroom Today…
- Our Favorite Decor for the Secondary Classroom
- Must-Try Organizational Tools and Classroom Procedures
- How to Rejuvenate Over the Summer
- Our Summer Reading Lists
- Creating Literacy-Rich Environments all Summer Long
- Be Inspired: Favorite Quotes for Teachers