Archive for the ‘Education Matters’ Category

Funny Things Students Do and Say

July 13, 2016


Below is a list of 21 anecdotes shared by teachers on Reddit (courtesy of


1. “I was having a conversation with my manager, and my second grade student comes out of the classroom and says very seriously… ‘Can I poop?'”

2. “I was with a student, waiting late after a rehearsal. The kid called home: ‘Hey, can you tell mom to pick me up? Oh, she’s in the shower … what about dad? He’s in the shower too….?’ Then he turned to me and said, ‘It’s going to be awhile, Mr. M.'”

3. “A student was mad at me because I made him redo a math test, so he walked over to the classroom door. When I told him I would need to call the office if he left the room without permission, he proceeded to slam his own leg in the door about five times. Then he looked at me and said, ‘Now my leg hurts and I’m going to tell everyone it was your fault.'”

4. “I had a student who had extreme test anxiety. Every time we went to take a test he would throw up. After vomiting he would be fine, but he had to spew everywhere first for stress reduction or something. I would seat him next to the bathroom and provide a bucket. Now this worked on normal days, but during our state testing, he would not be able to go to the restroom unless I first called an administrator to escort him. On the big testing day, we practiced breathing techniques. I had a handy vomit bucket for him, and we were ready to go. After ten minutes, he sure enough looked like he was going to be sick. Except he forgot about the bucket. He vomited and then tried to hold it in his mouth. He shoved his puke back in his mouth, swallowed and smiled at me and gave me a thumbs-up. Horrified, yet simultaneously holding back laughter, I gave him wipes and a bunch of mints. The kid did great on the test in the end.”

5. “My classroom carpet had the alphabet border around the edges. One of my pre-school students, Demetrius, likes to sit on the letter D because it’s the first letter of his name. One day, Zaria sits on the letter D. Demetrius gets in her face and yells, ‘Zaria! Get off my D!’ I lost it.”

6. “One kid who didn’t have that much money wanted to make personalized bookmarks for the rest of the class. Because his family didn’t have much money, he decided to look around his dad’s work place to find something he could use. In the trash can there were a bunch of long strips of cardboard. The only thing was the cardboard came from cigarette cartons because his dad worked at a liquor store. So on one side there was a kid’s name and cute pictures, and on the other was blatant advertising for Marlboro, Pall Mall, Camel, you name it. It was so hard to not laugh when he came up to me and excitedly showed them. This was my first time working in a classroom, and I had no idea what to do. The teacher ended up having me take them to the supply room and laminate them with construction paper covering the other side. We told the kid it would help them last longer. His bookmarks were every one’s favorite gift.”

7. “A student walking down the hallway had his Darth Vader mask confiscated by the principal. The kid replied the right way. He dropped to his knees and did the most perfect Vader ‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!’ The principal looked at me as the hall burst into laughter.”

8. “I was teaching English to a class of primary school Thai kids. I was teaching them plurals by showing them a slideshow of cartoon monsters (‘It has three eyes’, ‘It has four legs,’ etc) and getting them to tell me how many limbs each monster had. One little kid, five-years-old, got really into it, and on one monster shoots his hand in the air and comes out with: ‘It has one….ANUS!’ I was speechless for a second so he jumped up on his chair, backwards, bends over and starts pointing to his butt shouting, ‘NO TEACHER! ANUS! IT’S ANUS!'”

9. “Female science teacher here. I was about two weeks into my first job. Another student dropped a pen by accident, so I picked it up. I stood up to find one of the biggest boys in the class (about 14-years-old) standing right next to me. He got even closer, and said, ‘Good girl.’ I was kind of shocked, so just said, ‘Excuse me?’ and he replied with the creepiest ever top-to-toe survey of my body, a leer and then asked, ‘Would you rather be a bad girl?’ My whole body just recoiled.”

10. “When reading Hamlet with the class, after Ophelia’s line about Hamlet, ‘To speak of horrors – he comes before me,’ a kid said, ‘Hamlet, get it together, man.’ I cracked up. The other kids didn’t get it luckily.”

11. “My grandma was a kindergarten teacher for a long time and has some funny stories. Once a quiet kid randomly came up to her and said, ‘Mrs. H, Jimmy said the f––– word.'”

12. “I teach undergrad courses. I caught a student that had plagiarized a few paragraphs in one of her papers. I asked her to stay after lecture and sat her down, asking if she had plagiarized her paper. Her eyes got huge, she welled up and then she said, ‘I did! I’m so sorry! I was so tired and had so much work and my roommate told me to do it and said you would never find out.’ Then with the most serious expression she whispered,  ‘And, I know now she’s the devil!’ I did not laugh even though I really wanted to.”

13. “One time a kid twisted another kids nipple as he raised his hand to answer a question.”

14. “There were fish tanks in our high school biology lab. A student pulled some brightly colored fish gravel out, dried it off, gave it to two of the ‘popular girls’ and told them it was pop rocks. They tried to eat it, which obviously didn’t go well, so they, of course, loudly complained to the teacher. When the teacher got involved the instigator said, ‘Everyone knows we’re not allowed to eat in the biology lab, so it’s really their own fault for breaking the rules.'”

15. “My friend’s wife is a high school music teacher, and once when she went into class and to get set up, she sees this kid take his trombone and place it between his legs and slid the slide out going, ‘Look, I got a tromboner.'”

16. “Half way through Animal Farm, a student says, ‘Wait a minute. This book has talking animals in it!?'”

17. “I had a kid in my music history class say ‘Queen Dildo’ instead of ‘Queen Dido’ for the whole first act of the play we were reading in class.”

18. “I showed my students a picture of the Titanic on its end beside the Eiffel Tower to give an idea of scale. A student asked how they got the big boat to balance while they took the photo.”

19. “A student called me ‘Mom’ recently. I’m a male with a giant beard.”

20. “A nursing student that my roommate was dating asked me if eggs (like chicken eggs that you eat for breakfast) were considered a fruit or vegetable.”

21. “A student once asked me what I did for a living.”


What’s the Most Important Skill a French Teacher Needs to Have?

May 2, 2016




Basic spoken French?


Apparently not.


A high school French teacher has been accused of not being able to speak the language he’s been teaching his students. 

Albert Moyer, said that the extent of his French education was just one year in high school, according to an investigation by KHOU 11

Moyer has been teaching at the Houston Independent School District’s Energy Institute High School, where one student said that the only word Moyer knows is ‘bonjour’. 

Moyer was hired to replace Jean Cius, a certified French teacher for more than 25 years.

Cius was removed from the school after a dispute in December, according to KHOU 11. 

But student Nathanial White’s told the station that his teacher knows the word ‘bonjour’ and has to look up anyhting more complex on Google. 

Replaced teacher Cius told the station: ‘It makes me extremely mad. I feel bad for the fact that the kids are not learning.’

Cius was later declared fit for duty, but the high school didn’t give him back his old job and instead he now works at another high school where he monitors the halls. 

‘I feel so bad for the taxpayers because they’re paying me for not doing anything at all,’ he told KHOU 11.

Click on the link to read Dumb Politicians Shouldn’t be Calling Teachers “Dumb”

Click on the link to read The Courageous Valedictorian

Click on the link to read Meet the School They Call “Stinky School”

Click on the link to read Is it Appropriate to Bribe Your Students?

What was Your #Best School Day?

March 14, 2016


I didn’t have all that many happy school experiences, but I suppose being selected for the debating team was a big thrill.

But the real best school days come about from initiatives like the one above.



Click on the link to read Dumb Politicians Shouldn’t be Calling Teachers “Dumb”

Click on the link to read The Courageous Valedictorian

Click on the link to read Meet the School They Call “Stinky School”

Click on the link to read Is it Appropriate to Bribe Your Students?

Dumb Politicians Shouldn’t be Calling Teachers “Dumb”

February 2, 2016



I haven’t encountered too many dumb teachers, but I have come across plenty of dumb politicians:


THE Andrews Labor Government is intent on raising the bar for teachers in Victoria.

To say this is overdue is to put it mildly. It’s a no-brainer that if you put a thick teacher in front of kids, then they will not achieve.

But that is exactly what happens. Moreover, the cost of necessary remediation because of dumb teaching is high. Yes, it is your tax dollars we are talking about.

No matter. Teaching courses in Victoria set entry requirements for bottom feeders.

I am in my fourth decade of being a secondary teacher and I have seen academic standards decline in teachers.

To be blunt, they do not know enough about their subject.


Click on the link to read The Courageous Valedictorian

Click on the link to read Meet the School They Call “Stinky School”

Click on the link to read Is it Appropriate to Bribe Your Students?

Click on the link to read Keep Politics Out of the Classroom

The Courageous Valedictorian

December 7, 2015


For me it’s not whether I agree with Sarah Haynes or not, but that I applaud her for speaking her mind. Too often the valedictory speeches given at high school graduations are heavily vetted, mushy and saccharine.  It’s so refreshing to hear a young adult speak their mind, especially when their is resistance.


Click on the link to read Meet the School They Call “Stinky School”

Click on the link to read Is it Appropriate to Bribe Your Students?

Click on the link to read Keep Politics Out of the Classroom

Click on the link to read Tips for Teachers Preparing for the First Day of School

Meet the School They Call “Stinky School”

December 1, 2015



Anyone for yard duty?


It has been labelled the “stinky school”. A high school that is subjected to a pong so powerful that, according to one family, children have been unable to eat outside at lunchtime.

A community consultation meeting last week was told that falling student numbers at Windsor High School have been blamed on the obnoxious odour that wafts across the area keeping windows at the school shut.

Local resident Kim Smith from lobby group, Stop The Stink In Windsor, said the locals had suffered for far too long from the smell from the Elf Farm Supplies composting facility.

A posting on the group’s Facebook page said a dance eisteddfodat the school had been overshadowed by the odour. “All the other dance groups were horrified at the smell. I really felt for the students and staff at that school.”

The school did not returns calls from Fairfax Media. The Department of Education said it had not received any complaints about the smell.

However, the member for Hawkesbury and Minister for Finance, Services and Property, Dominic Perrottet, is aware of the problem and said he is working closely with Elf Farm to help them get approval from the EPA to install new equipment to help alleviate the smells.



Click on the link to read Is it Appropriate to Bribe Your Students?

Click on the link to read Keep Politics Out of the Classroom

Is it Appropriate to Bribe Your Students?

November 2, 2015


I’m not entirely critical of a school that has the money to incentivise academic improvement among their student population. After all, at least they’re trying.

But it really does seem rather desperate:


Brandon Allen is determined to make sure senioritis doesn’t hit during his last year at John Glenn High School in Westland. So he has signed a contract that will pay him $200 per semester if he substantially improves his grades.

“I heard that senioritis is a real thing. I figured that if I signed up for this program, it would keep me on track,” said Brandon of Westland.

About 400 students at the nearly 1,800-student school have signed such contracts, modeled after a smaller program at nearby Wayne Memorial High School. Both schools are in the Wayne-Westland Community Schools district.

The new program, called Champions of John Glenn, is funded primarily by a $50,000 donation from local businessman Glenn Shaw and his family. Shaw, who graduated from Wayne Memorial in 1961, lives in Canton, but Westland is still in his heart.

“I just love this community. … We just know kids are going to do so much better,” he said.

In addition to being able to earn $400 in a school year, the student with the highest percentage increase in his or her grade-point average will receive a one-year scholarship to the Wayne County Community College District or Schoolcraft College. Students already having a top grade of 4.0 can earn the money by setting different goals: organizing an event, taking a college entrance exam, reading a book or writing a paper.

Nearly all of the teachers at the school  — as well as other staff members such as custodians and the police liaison officer —  have signed on to become mentors. So has the district superintendent.

Some teachers have taken on entire classes of students.


Click on the link to read Keep Politics Out of the Classroom

Click on the link to read Tips for Teachers Preparing for the First Day of School

Click on the link to read Would You Ever Want to Visit Your Old High School?

Click on the link to read Middle School Student Bought Teacher Thong Underwear as a Gift by Accident

Rafe Esquith is Punished Because He Showed the System Up

October 19, 2015


Our system of education and teaching is ineffective. Rafe Esquith knew it and showed it up through his passion and ingenuity.

He may be guilty of the allegations against him, and if he is, he deserves his fall from grace.

But Jay Mathews is right. He had it coming, not because he told a joke about nudity, but because he offended the powers that be by shining a light on their incompetence:


Flowery praise of teachers is a standard part of speeches by superintendents, school board members and principals. But they never mention a sad truth. If our most energetic and effective educators make others look bad, someone is eventually going to punish them for that.

I have collected small examples of this over the years. Now here is a big one.

On Oct. 13, behind closed doors, the Los Angeles Board of Education voted to fire Rafe Esquith, as first reported by the Los Angeles Times. Esquith is probably the nation’s best classroom teacher. He has been dismissed for murky reasons that appear to be part of a witch hunt against hundreds of other L.A. educators.

Obviously I’m biased. I don’t think Esquith could ever be guilty of any of the fuzzy accusations in an August statement from the district, including inappropriate touching of minors, inappropriate photos and videos on his computer, ethical and policy violations in the nonprofit group that funds his fifth-grade class’s annual Shakespeare plays. He has denied any wrongdoing. The district’s legal team has suspended hundreds of teachers on similar unexamined charges, the result of L.A. school leaders losing touch with reality after being traumatized by a molestation scandal a few years ago.

In their one interview with Esquith, 61, they asked the names of women he dated in college and people at his school who disliked him. Given enough time, staff and money, cynical attack dogs can make any of us look bad, even if we’re not. That goes double for teachers who spend so much time with kids, and triple for teachers who creatively interpret musty regulations that impede student learning.I have been in Esquith’s classroom many times, seen his joyful multi-media plays, interviewed him for hours and talked to his wife, many of his students and educators he has mentored. I have never detected a trace of improper behavior. The district’s one concrete fact is an allegation that he abused a nine-year-old boy at a summer camp when he was 19, but neither the school board nor the L.A. police did anything with that when the accuser informed them in 2006.

Esquith has been teaching for more than 30 years. Educators have extolled the combination of challenge and fun in his classes full of children of low-income Hispanic and Korean families. He helps former students find the right high schools and colleges. He has usually worked 12-hour days and helped kids in his class on holidays and weekends. Their test scores are high and their life achievements impressive.

That’s the kind of stuff that insecure supervisors hate. When Mary Catherine Swanson, the founder of the nation’s largest college readiness program, AVID, was first having success with her ideas, the jealous director of her district’s gifted student program said “I will see to it that your career is ruined in the San Diego city schools.” Dave Levin, co-founder of KIPP charter school network, was elected teacher of the year by the faculty of the first Houston elementary school he worked in, but when he defied an order to excuse some of his lower-achieving students from a state standardized test, his principal fired him.

The L.A. school district has taken that kind of spite to a new level. It will pay for that, but not right away.

The lawsuit that Esquith already has filed for attempting to smear him — and a class-action suit his lawyers filed Thursday on behalf of many teachers similarly mistreated — will take years to resolve. I am happy Esquith will have time to help more teachers and students elsewhere, and write more books. Howard Blume of the L.A. Times told me Esquith will still get his pension, but the class-action lawsuit suggests that is not true for all teachers swept up in the L.A. schools dragnet.

This is a classic witch hunt. In those frightful incidents in colonial New England, children died or crops failed for mysterious reasons, and no one wanted to defend the people accused of wrongdoing for fear of being labeled friends of the devil. The L.A. school board seems to me similarly unwilling to stand up for a great teacher because even an unconfirmed whisper of touching kids makes otherwise sensible people go silent.

Esquith will continue to do good work. But it will take the L.A. school leadership many years to right the wrongs they have done, out of panic, to him and many others.


Click on the link to read Lessons We Can Learn From the Rafe Esquith Suspension

Click on the link to read #StandByRafe

Click on the link to read The Teacher I Most Look Up To, Removed from the Classroom

Click on the link to read Teachers Don’t Get Any Better Than This!

Educational Trends are as Useless as Political Slogans

October 1, 2015


mastery over differentiation


When you have no idea what you are doing and how to improve your flagging results you reach for buzz words like “differentiate” and “mastery”. The ploy buys you time while you quickly search for the next trend before the promise of your last one becomes undone:


Schools will witness a shift in jargon this year. Differentiation is out. Mastery is in. Mark my words.

In his memoir, An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Education, former Eton headmaster Tony Little recounts the delightful story of workmen at the school uncovering fragments of a wall painting under some wood panelling. The images, from around 1520, are believed to be the earliest representation of a school scene in England. A banner headline from Roman scholar Quintilian crowns the scene “Virtuo preceptoris est ingeniorum notare discrimina”, meaning “the excellence of the teacher is to identify the difference in talents of students”. Or, in a word, differentiation.

It’s not a complex idea, but differentiation is difficult to get right. All teachers know that matching their teaching to students’ various needs, aptitudes and preferred styles of learning is the key challenge in a classroom. The fact that teachers have to do this for 30 students at once makes it even more difficult. You could have an entire teaching career of purposeful practice – more than 10,000 hours – and still not quite crack it.

Different cultures treat differentiation in different ways. I remember training high school teachers in New York and being told that they “differentiate by sending students to different rooms”. While teaching in the Middle East I learned that deep cultural assumptions lead to differentiation by gender and age; boys are taught in morning classes, girls in the afternoon.

But recently a dose of an eastern-inspired “mastery” has entered our schools, with the impact in maths being measured by an Education Endowment Foundation report. It’s caught the attention of policymakers, and earlier this year the Department for Education flew in teachers from Shanghai to raise standards with their “mastery” style. The Oxford University Press has also produced a paper exploring mastery in maths and how it can raise achievement. The national curriculum frameworks for English and maths are now rooted in it.

At the heart of the Chinese classroom is the teacher’s unshakeable belief that all children are capable of learning anything if that learning is presented in the right way. The idea works on the basis that understanding is the result of high intention, sincere effort and intelligent execution, and that difficulty is pleasurable.



Click on the link to read Keep Politics Out of the Classroom

Click on the link to read Tips for Teachers Preparing for the First Day of School

Click on the link to read Would You Ever Want to Visit Your Old High School?

Click on the link to read Middle School Student Bought Teacher Thong Underwear as a Gift by Accident

Keep Politics Out of the Classroom

August 26, 2015



Can we just stick to the curriculum and leave moral, religious and political stances for parents to discuss with their children?


The NSW Education Department has intervened to prevent a western Sydney high school from screening a politically controversial documentary about growing up with same-sex parents during school hours.

Many parents from Burwood Girls High School were reportedly outraged their daughters were being forced to watch the Australian film about growing up with same-sex parents.

The 1200 students of the all-girl school informed their parents via flyer they would be watching the documentary made by Australian filmmaker Maya Newell on Friday instead of attending two periods in the morning.

But speaking on 2GB radio this morning, Education Minster Andrew Piccoli said the department decided the school-day screening should not go ahead because the film was not part of the curriculum.

“We do promote and accept diversity in NSW generally but … during school hours, parents rightly expect that students will be doing curriculum subjects and that’s what I expect too,” Piccoli said.



Click on the link to read Tips for Teachers Preparing for the First Day of School

Click on the link to read Would You Ever Want to Visit Your Old High School?

Click on the link to read Middle School Student Bought Teacher Thong Underwear as a Gift by Accident

Click on the link to read Even a Ladybird Prank Can Get You Arrested

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