Category Archives: fun fact


Boy: You could beat a black lady in a sass contest.
Me: Thanks, I think.
Boy: See? She’s already doing it to me.
Me: I just can’t decide if that’s a compliment or not.


Bleeding vs Blackface

I had students writing out a quick list of all the things they know about racial tension in America in the mid-1900s. You know, the Civil Rights Era. They worked in small groups on posters that we then hung up for discussion.

I’m walking around, doing the good teacher thing, checking on groups and whatnot. I go over to one group, read some of the stuff on their poster, then point to something they wrote about three from the bottom. “Menstrual shows?” I ask.

“Yeah,” this boy responds. “They were really popular for a long time. It was where white people painted their faces black and put on these plays where they made fun of Black people and stuff. They really just helped make a bunch of Black stereotypes.”

“Oh! Minstrel shows!” I said.

“Yeah, menstrual shows,” he replied.

I just left it.

And you know what? That poster’s been hanging in my room now for two days. No one. Has said. A thing.


Boy: Hey, have you ever tied one of these to the back of a car?
Me: A desk?
Boy: No. One of these.
Me: A roller chair? No. I haven’t.
Boy: Have you ever tied a desk to the back of a car?
Me: I don’t think I’ve ever tied anything to the back of a car. It has always seemed to me to be a rather bad idea.
Boy: I tied a sled to the back of a car once. My dad slammed on the brakes and I ate the bumper.
Me: I bet you did.

White Privilege

From a co-worker, telling me what advice he’s given his son in high school:

“He’s a white male, you know. I’ve told him – there is no such thing as ‘white privilege.’ The system and the direction our country is headed works against him now. I’ve taught him that he has to work harder than everyone else to get what he wants in life because things won’t be handed to him any more the way they have been for the last 200, 300 years. Now, his position – in a college, in a job – is more likely to go to a woman, a colored woman, or someone else of color – before he even gets considered – just because he’s a white male. And it’s a shame, really, that things have turned out this way, but that’s the truth.”


Girl: Does it make sense to say “civil liberties”?
Me: Civil liberties?
Girl: Yeah.
Me: Yes. Like the American Civil Liberties Union.
Girl: I’ve never heard of that. But OK.

Well, that’s one option.

Boy in the independent study credit recovery class I monitor:

Wait a minute! This is so fucking lame! I’m going to drink a fat gallon of bleach tonight, I swear to God. I’m already working on one fucking essay and the next two assignments are more fucking essays. Look at this! It says, “In a six- to eight-paragraph response…” That’s fucking lame! I fucking hate high school.”

Some context: he’s finishing up course work for English 11. So, in other words, he’s at a point in a class that should require a couple of essays.

I promised him that writing a couple of papers wasn’t actually a good reason to “drink a fat gallon of bleach,” and that every high school graduate in the world has made it through just fine with writing papers and without committing suicide.

“Oh yeah?” he asked. “Since when?”

“Since school began,” I said. “Since the dark ages. People have been writing essays since before there was paper. We all do it, and we all come out stronger in the end.”

He said, “I’m not an author! I can’t just bust out a 400-page book!”

“No one is asking you to write a 400-page book,” I said. “But if you’d rather write that than the three two-page papers we are asking you to write, I would let you.”

He chose the essays.

I’ll just tell you right now: I cannot communicate telepathically with technology.

I have a printer in my room that people from four other classrooms can print to.

This morning, I’m sitting at my desk working quietly (it’s a study hall and I only have two kids in there, so things are pretty slow). The printer starts making its printery noises. A girl from another class opens the door and goes to the printer on the other side of the room from my desk as it finishes its last print. She looks at the papers that came out of the printer. She continues to stand there.

Finally the girl looks over at me as I’m grading papers and asks, “Is this printer out of paper or something?”

I fight the urge to respond with sarcasm. I’m only marginally successful. “I don’t know,” I tell her. “I’m all the way over here and can’t see what’s going on with the printer. You’ll need to open the paper tray and check to see whether there’s more paper in there or not.”

She checks. It’s out. She puts more in. Anti-climactic ending.

Back to life, back to reality…

Happy Monday morning to me! I had a student arrested first block, one put on discipline warning for excessive tardies, two sent to the office for sleeping in class, and three discipline referrals for refusing to work. And that was all before lunch!

But to show you my job isn’t all boring and serious, here’s a fantastic conversation I just had with some kids:

Me: Hey, can you make sure you keep that water bottle off the computer table? Put it on the floor next to you or on the desk behind you?
Boy 1: What if I just make sure the lid is on?
Me: See, it’s this whole liquids-and-electronics thing. They don’t really go together very well. So it would be awesome if you could just keep said liquids away from the computers altogether. The floor or the desk would be excellent places to store your drink.
Boy 2: But liquids and electronics are only bad together if they touch.
Me: And that is all too easy when the liquid and electronics are around teenagers.
Boy 2: I’m not a teenager.
Me: Yeah? How old are you?
Boy 2: Eighteen.
Me: You’re eighteen? So you’re a teenager?
Boy 2: No, I’m an adult.
Me: Maybe legally you can do some adult things, but if you’re eighteen, you’re still a teenager.
Boy 2: That doesn’t make any sense. That’s not how it works.
Me: That’s not how what works? Language?
Boy 2: No. Age.
Me: That is absolutely how it works. When the word “teen” is part of your age, you are, by definition, a teenager.
Boy 2: It’s all a state of mind, anyway.
Me: Good point. And since your mind isn’t fully developed until you’re 25 anyway, then you have a good seven years left of being a teenager.


My school has a “no stuff” policy. Kids are allowed one drawstring bag and that’s it. There are no lockers, so there’s no reason to bring anything with you. We give them everything from books to binders to pens and paper. If they do come with a coat or a skateboard or something, we have a closet that we lock everything up in for the rest of the day.

Last night, it snowed a little. So first period today started with a reminder that kids aren’t allowed to have coats with them and that if anyone had a coat, they needed to take it to the storage room. Then, we had this conversation in my room:

Boy 1: We aren’t allowed to wear coats? Why? Cuz they think we’re going to, like, beat people with them, or what?
Me: No, it’s more because you don’t have anywhere to store them while you’re here. Plus it’s what you’re going to smuggle into the school inside your jacket.
Boy 1: Oh, kids here don’t smuggle stuff like that in their jackets. They’ll just smuggle it in up their butt.
Me: Wow. I really don’t want to think about that happening. Here or anywhere.
Boy 1: It happens, though. Here, even.
Me: Oh, I’m sure. I just really, really don’t want to know.
Boy 2: Except guns.
Me: Yeah, it would take some dedication to smuggle a gun in somewhere via the inside of your butt.
Boy 1: Can you even imagine? That would suck so bad to shove a gun in your butt.
Boy 2: You’d have to be so desperate. It’d be all hot and covered in slime and shit.
Boy 1: You would have to put it in a baggie, bro.



I’ve learned two big things about the girls’ bathrooms at the high school.

  1. Girls here are not at all freaked out by a teacher walking in to the bathroom. At the middle school, that was not the case. I thought it was no big deal because, like, we all have to pee sometimes, but I was wrong. Teachers in the middle school bathrooms was cause for awkwardness – and not the kind that’s mutually shared, but the kind where you know someone else is feeling enough for the both of you. But evidently by the time they get to high school, they’ve figured out that adults also have bodily functions.
  2. If I walk past the bathroom and it is teeming with girls, I can still go in and pee. I have learned that they are not in there waiting in line or even washing their hands. In fact, I don’t know that most of them even go in the stalls at all. They’re in there texting or fixing their hair and make up. That’s all.