1. Enter the room and socialize at your leisure. The daily “warm-up” is just a suggestion that is not in any way intended to promote the acquisition of grammar skills over necessary social interactions.
2. Every time you enter the room, please be sure to ask me if we’re watching a movie. I may have neglected to plan a movie, and will quickly be reminded that a feature-length film, however loosely connected to the curriculum, will be both more entertaining and more instructive than whatever lesson I had originally planned.
3. Sit wherever you want. If you feel like sitting. Standing up is good, too, or sitting on top of the chair and rocking in it. It’s important for those of you who are kinesthetic learners to feel comfortable.
4. Please don’t put your name on any papers that you turn in, especially on multiple choice quizzes. I enjoy challenging myself to match each of your 125 identities with the intricacies of the way you form the first four letters of the alphabet.
5. When I say “Pass your papers up,” what I really mean is, “Pass your paper to the person either to the left or right of you. Or behind you. Or just keep your paper at your desk; it doesn’t matter.”
6. When I say, “Put your papers in a stack,” what I really mean is, “Throw your papers in a pile facing all different directions. Unless you don’t want to put your paper in the pile. Which is fine too, because I don’t want to stifle your individuality.”
7. When preparing formal essays, feel free to abandon all conventions in the interest of expressing your creativity. For example, use titles like “My Super-Awesome Essay.” Festoon your papers with patterned borders, and use interesting fonts in colors such as bubblegum pink and seafoam green. Making your font size extremely large ensures that I can read your essay from very far away. Making your font size extremely tiny serves as a gentle reminder to visit the eye doctor. Either is encouraged. Or, alternate a sentence in very large type with a sentence in very small type. That keeps me focused.
8. Read your essay aloud. Then put commas wherever you breathe.
9. Start every other sentence with the interjection “well.” It makes me feel as if you’re right there talking to me.
10. Use the time when I’m giving directions to multitask. Doodle, stare into space, gesture to someone across the room, pick your nose. Even if you don’t hear how to differentiate among the four types of noun clauses, it’s still good for me to practice explaining it, just so I don’t forget! LOL!
11. Sharpen your pencil at any time, even if you have to walk in front of me while I’m talking to do it, and even if the incessant grinding of the sharpener drowns out anything I might be saying.
12. It is a good idea to verify all directions by asking the same question three, four, or five times.
13. Encourage your parents to email me often, and to use capital letters, multiple exclamation points, and an accusatory tone to get my attention and ensure that I will respond promptly.
All classes this year will involve parties with piñatas, paper-wad basketball, and hair braiding. Should I bore you at any time, please raise your hand and I will unzip my face to reveal that I am actually a magical giraffe-llama-unicorn hybrid who will entertain you with magic tricks and grant each of you 500 extra credit points in addition to a lucrative career in which you will not have to write coherently or have any knowledge of grammar.
Looking forward to a fun year!
Addendum, To the Senders of All That Hate Mail About How I’m an Embarrassment to the Profession: If you are so dim and humorless that you are offended by this post, please know that I am a young, vibrant teacher who loves my students. Teaching isn’t just a job for me; it’s my identity, and I will probably teach until I am mentally or physically unable to do so. Teaching has given meaning to my life unlike anything else I’ve ever done, and even on difficult days, I have hope that I have made a positive difference in my students’ lives. When I start to lose hope, I go to a red binder on top of my bookshelf that is filled with notes of thanks. This post could have been written only by someone who knows and loves kids well. If you can’t see that, then congratulations on LACKING A SENSE OF HUMOR and taking yourself RIDICULOUSLY GODDAMN SERIOUSLY. I’m just thankful we don’t know each other in real life.