New Classroom Rules

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!

Holy shit IT’S RAINING CANDY!!! Or prescription drugs, I can’t really tell which.

352 thoughts on “New Classroom Rules

  1. Oh how I love this post!!!!! High school math teacher…and I’m pretty sure we are in a close race for most hated along with science & english teachers. I also enjoyed the comments 🙂

    Teachers get blamed for everything. Students are not held accountable for their own actions or lack of effort…sad when I have to explain to a parent that it’s not okay for them to call their child during math every day. Then I get to deal with being cussed at when the child can’t pass…

    Good thing we LOVE our kids!!!!!!!! Every day I thank God for the opportunity to make an impact in the children’s lives 🙂

    “Sarcasm is the body’s way of dealing with stupid.” Lol!

  2. I teach French and the kids consistently ask, “Answer in French?” or “Do I put that in French. So I tell them to choose Polish or German or Hindi, since I won’t be able to grade that,
    which makes my job soooooo much more fun.

    1. I actually have a small poster on my wall with a smarmy teacher on it asking, “Did you seriously just ask me if you have to do that in French?” I point to it many times a day.

    2. I teach high school English in France and I get “en anglais, madame?” all the time! I tried answering with “unless your mandarin is good,” but I just got blank stares. Just to let you know, the problem is international! :p

  3. Thanks for the laugh today! Will forward to those in my Lang Art dept! By the way, I have lots of free resources & PowerPoints on my website…you know, in case you don’t want to show a movie.

  4. You are awesome. Lol

    I like to use “No, this isn’t important, I just enjoy wasting your time. That’s what I was taught at teacher school.”

    And screw the idiots. They suck.

  5. Ha! I teach high school and this is 100% true. My favorite is “Did I miss anything when I was absent yesterday?” “No, dear, the world stopped turning while we mourned your absence. We decided to halt all learning in eager anticipation of your return.”

    Thanks for making my night!

  6. This was hilarious. And so very true. So, so true. (I might just start setting up pinatas and showing a bunch of full-length films to appease all.) What’s great about my students is that they are proactive, and say, “Are we gonna do anything tomorrow?”

  7. Bahahahaha! When does the poster come out so we may place this on our walls? Woke up the dog and the spouse trying to choke back the giggles.

  8. While I am not a teacher the question of what are we doing today seems like a fair one and your smart alec answers don’t address the question. No duh you are working in the subject matter that you specialize in but when someone is informed of the agenda for what is about to be discussed it can help orient and ground them and enable them to be open to learning. Something to think about the next time someone asks you that question.

    1. Teachers (being teachers) already know this, which is why most of them post agendas and objectives, and keep students informed of what the daily plans will be. It doesn’t matter; students still ask anyway, which is what is so frustrating. I just gave up and started pointing to the board, which is also what I do when someone asks me what the date is, even though the date has been posted in the same spot in my room every day since mid-August.

      1. To melversations: I’m replying from the point of view of a retired high school teacher: do you think that a student asking what we’re doing today is a question we only occasionally get? We get it multiple times a day every day all year until the last day of school. That’s why we post that information on the board every day (or in a weekly agenda that’s passed out every Monday). Studies have shown that students who are kept apprised of the objectives for the day have a more meaningful learning experience. We know that this is important. Most of us are required to post daily objectives in our classroom. We WANT students to know what we’re going to be doing each day. We really love teaching your children and we continue teaching because we honestly have your child’s best interests at heart. Please take a moment before you criticize us or think you know of a better way for us to do things. Most of us are thinking ALL THE TIME of ways we can make our classroom as rich a learning environment as we can for your child. If you can’t stop yourself from advising us on how to do our jobs, please talk to our principal so that they can speak with us about the best way to do things in our classroom. We’ve had hundreds/thousands of all kinds of students in our classes. We’ve heard and seen it all.

      2. its like groundhog day in my classroom, we have a set schedule, but they act like they have never been in my class before……

    2. No need to tell us that you are not a teacher… we could have figured that out pretty easily from the rest of your comment!

    3. They don’t ask, “What are we doing?” They ask, “Are we doing anything?” which is a indeed a different question. The question they ask, that frustrates those of us who teach, as opposed to babysit, is, “Are we doing anything important today?” If they were interested in what we were doing, that would be a step in the right direction.

    4. Not only do I post my objectives and agenda, every day, in the same place on the board, every day, it is also in their shared computer documents. They know how to find out what we are doing, all they have to do is READ — since mine is a READING class, it should be a piece of cake!

    5. Melversations…. You did not need to clarify that you’re not a teacher. By your ignorant comment, we could have figured that out. Just FYI…On top of planning our fantastic lesson for the day, which will be not only rigorous, but differentiated to meet the multiple levels of ability as well as different learning styles of our students…We also plan engaging activities which challenge the students to think critically and deeply. And for the first few minutes of each lesson we also carefully design “do now” activities in which the students will connect the previous days’ learning with the new material they are about to be dazzled with. If the students paid any attention to routine or followed the simple directions of getting started on the “do now” they would be well aware of what that day’s class has in store for them. But I’d actually prefer your suggestion…. Tomorrow and each day forward, I will stand at my door and simply spend just one minute giving a personal explanation of what each student can anticipate throughout the next 43 minutes. Since I will have wasted 25 minutes of class time doing that, I will have only 18 minutes left of class to teach! Thanks for the suggestion…. You just cut my planning time in half!

    6. Oh jeez lighten up. The question is stupid. You will learn when I address it to the class in two minutes when the bell rings. I don’t need to answer this question for 30 students individually. Oh yeah, and it’s on the board. Every day. Every freaking day.

    7. I have a giant dry erase board(calendar) in the back of my room. I place the daily assignments there. It never fails. A student who was absent will come up & ask, “What did we do yesterday?” I always reply, “You know, if only I had a BIG calendar so I could write down the assignments for students. My life would be SO much easier.”

      Is that snarky enough for you?
      Oh, and these are 6 th graders.

    8. Without being a teacher, you may not remember that in most middle and high school classrooms (even younger into the intermediate grades) have an established patteren for the classroom. The objectives and agenda for the day are posted and there is an immediate getting started actively prepared. Students are expected to take resposiblity to come in and familiarize themselves and get started. The teacher at the bell then addresses the what are we doing today with the class instead of 26 individuals as they block the door way stopping to ask.

    9. This is meant to be funny. All these questions are ones that get asked over and over and over and over! Love this writer’s “rules”! Perhaps one needs to realize this is “tongue in cheek” and lighten up!! Hmmmm?

  9. As a therapist, I found, that kids and teens sometimes don’t have the biggest vocabulary yet for what they really want to express to their teacher. Or, they may not want to appear “uncool” in front of peers by trying to connect with a teacher. So, by asking,” What are we doing today?” and these simple questions that we know they should know the answers to, perhaps they are really trying to connect in a deeper way with their teacher but just lack the social skills?
    Teachers, this is something to consider. Teen years are incredibly awkward. The teen is stuck between so many social norms and trying to find themselves. Sarcasm works for some, I have used it myself, but I have also found that remembering the teen struggle and that what I’m seeing in front of me is a guise, masking a very different inner core that can still be reached and affected.
    Yes, humor helps us all..laughter is great! Keep laughing. Build a support system and keep teaching. We need awesome dedicated teachers out there, making a difference, one day at a time.

    1. Right but give us the credit to know that in many teens world a snappy come back is exactly what they need to know they are making a connection. Many students like that their teacher can be playful with them.

  10. I am a parent. I love my child more than words could ever say, but I don’t want to teach him, or any kids. I am so very grateful to all teachers because you are doing one of the most difficult, important, and sometimes thankless jobs. I am SO glad for a good sense of humor, it’s the best medicine for frustration, which we ALL experience on our jobs. If you’re passionate about a job, it’s going to be frustrating at times because you care and want the best for your students. Anyone who does not “get” the need for a sense of humor is possibly not in a job they passionate about. XO to all teachers!

    1. To the parent at the bottom who praised us and said humor is good for the frustration that means we care…. THANK YOU. YOU are clearly a great parent and care about your child and human beings in general. Thank you for remembering that teachers are people with feelings too. We love your children and we love our jobs, but you’re right. Every job has its frustrations. It’s your children and kind caring parents like you that make our job worth any amount of frustration, though!

  11. I have been saying for the past 8 years or so that the kids are getting more and more sophisticated and less and less mature.

  12. My favorite questions is “Do we need to write this down?” Really, I am working out one of the problems on your paper….Love teaching…Have to have humor because some of the things we see most people could not imagine how heavy our hearts are when we go home many days.

    Great post!

  13. I teach sixth graders. This is so dead on! Love it! As teachers, we all just need to take a deep breath and let ourselves laugh sometimes. I saw that many who commented before me are high school teachers. It seems sixth graders and high schoolers have the same classroom behaviors. Every one of those things mentioned has happened in my classroom. My favorite is also “Did we do anything important yesterday?” I can’t help but think, why would I teach something unimportant? Only teachers will truly understand this post or understand it in the way that we do. We all love our students and your post is in no way disrespectful to them. Anyone who regards this as offensive should spend some time in a classroom. They would have quite the revelation and attitude adjustment.

  14. I teach Second grade, but have still seen all these in my students!
    My favorite is when they come to me, PAPER IN HAND, and say, “Did I hand this in to you already?” Yes, you did and you are such a hard working, over achieving child that you made another paper and would hope I would be impressed!

    1. I also teach 2nd grade and this cracks me up! Another favorite is when I give explicit directions, write them on the board with pictures, have the students repeat the instructions back to me, ask if there are any questions – no hands raised – and then when I tell them to get started one shouts out “what are we doing?”

  15. Oh how I needed this today! Today was a day of needless questions. My favorites: “why do I need to know this?” and “What are we doing today?”

  16. After 31 glorious years of teaching, I can happily report that I am now apart of the “I am in no hurry. I am retired.”group. After being asked the same question by at least six students, my reply to “Did I miss anything yesterday?” came from a somewhat sarcastic place when I replied: Education, as we know it ceased to exist without your presence.

  17. Love this! I’ve been an educator for 37 years and a sense of humor is the key to survival! The humorless “haters” need to get over themselves — here and in the classroom. Also, you correctly noted that teaching is not just a job, it is a lifestyle. Keep up the good work and keep laughing!

  18. I taught elementary school for 34 years, been retired for 4 and I still miss it. I laughed til I cried when reading this! You are completely on target! You need a sense of humor to be a teacher or you would just implode from the stress. Thanks for the laugh!!!!

  19. I’m a music teacher with 3500 students. I have signs up that say, “if your name isn’t on it, it goes in the garbage and you get a zero” so even if they hand it to me personally, I point to the signs (there are 6 strategically placed in the room) and depending on the point we are in the marking period, I’ll either drop it directly in the trash or be nice and ask “did you forget something?” My favorite sign placement is next to the clock!

  20. i am a social work supervisor of adults aged 20 something to 40 something. these kinds of questions do not go away after high school.

  21. I look at the papers from my Kindergarteners and tell them that the work is wonderful, but I have no idea who did the work. At the beginning of the school year, I get a puzzled look, now when I say it, they go write their name. Also, my husband teaches middle school students, he was reading some of the answers on his papers to me the other day. My reply to him was that at least when my students give me an incorrect answer, it is usually funny.

  22. Love this. This year I instituted a new way for students to come into the classroom. It’s called Silent Start. They come in quietly, take a photo from the table near the door, sit down and have a couple of minutes of quiet reflection time. The photos are to give them something to give their attention to; mostly nature photos cut from magazines and old books. I put “inspirational quotes” on the backs of some, another photo on the back of others, and laminated them. Sometimes I encourage a little specific reflection, like: Think of something you feel really grateful for in your life”, other times I just let them sit quietly. It’s transformed the beginning of class and gives me full control with no need to ever raise my voice to get their attention. (I got the idea for Silent Start from something I saw in a youtube video. The photos were my own idea.)

    1. Oh, and I have my own little sign that says: I ❤ Silent Start. Also stolen from the youtube piece I saw.

  23. I loved this. I am not a teacher but a parent that homeschools. I used to volunteer in my daughter’s classes all the time and I completely understand the frustration. I love that you took all that and made it funny. I’ll have to remember this whenever I start to get tired and frustrated. Good luck with your classes. I hope your students know the funny side of you.

  24. OMG! LOL and all the other abbreviated speech that drives me crazy from the kids! You are my hero…. And I think we might be teaching the same children😉. As you mentioned humor is imperative, especially when teaching those teenagers! Thanks for a laugh. I’m actually going to read this to my kids on Monday. They too will TOTALLY appreciate your humor!

  25. Love this! My personal favorite is, “Is this for a grade?” “Really? No, I just gave you worm I know you don’t like to keep you out of my hair for 5 minutes!” Kids are great, but their wuestions do wear on you. Thanks for this lighthearted reminder that we do care (too much, usually) and have to have some way to deal with the madness!

  26. My favorite response to children who ask what to do IMMEDIATELY after directions were given, does anyone have any questions was asked, and go to work was stated…is, “I don’t know what we’re doing I was talking while I gave directions, why don’t you ask someone who was paying attention…” They usually just roll their eyes and mumble, “sarcasm”… at least they learned that 🙂

  27. Retired 4 years ago after 34 glorious (not always) years in the classroom! Loved this and feel relieved that my profession is populated with young teachers with a sense of humor and a love of the craft of teaching! I would have loved to teach beside you! Keep the faith!

  28. Middle school math teacher for 21 years. “Favorite” question: “Do we have to write the WHOLE problem?” when given a word problem to copy (words do show up in math too!). My answer, “nah…only every other letter…you should be good with that.” Takes a moment, some even try it, then someone in the class usually tells the person that I’m kidding and to write it all. Hilarious!!

  29. I’ve been teaching HS math for 39 years and can confidently say that without humor in the classroom, I would have lasted maybe 10 years. I have seen the change in generations of students and know that it all boils down to lack of responsibility. They don’t feel the need to think before they speak….so when they repeatedly ask the same ridiculous questions every day, they verify that they are not taking the responsibility of paying attention seriously. I found that a funny reply focuses the speaker and all the students on the lameness of the question….that usually puts an end to it….for the day!!
    All of the replies are great……we need more great teachers like you!

  30. Just retired after 25 years in a high school English classroom. This was hysterical, and I believe I have actually used all of these retorts at one time or another. And my kids loved my class-as evidenced by the fact that I am still in touch with many of them on Facebook, some of whom were in the first classes I ever taught. A sense of humor is essential, both for the teacher and for the student!

  31. Also fabulous is having all 30 kids come up independently at the beginning of class and ask what we’re doing today. “How about we wait 20 seconds and all find out together.”

  32. My favorite was always…. “Do we need to copy this down?” At one point I told my students that if I had a nickle for every time a student asked that, I might be able to retire early. The next day they gathered as many nickles as they could in lunch and designated a student to ask me, and when I gave my response, they tossed nickles at my feet. I collected over a dollar that period. 🙂

  33. These apply to my 1st & 2nd graders too. Even though some of the behavior is age appropriate, it’s still funny. Another favorite is the student who raises a hand and when called on forgets why the hand is up. Some also do a fake out hand raise: “I was just stretching.”

  34. Reblogged this on That Lesbian Teacher and commented:
    This is so perfect! Only a teacher that respects herself and her students enough to care about classroom management and teaching self-sufficiency could write such hilarity…and only a teacher with those qualities could appreciate such a post! 🙂

      1. Love this! However, you forgot one of my favorites…if, by chance, you plan on being absent on a future date, no, we will not be doing anything important that day, and if you already were absent, of course you do not have to make it up, and it will not be counted against you. 🙂 — Oh, for the love of teaching!

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