Things My Students Say


by Christopher Paslay

Below are 10 winners that have come out of the mouths of my babes (when I say “babes” I mean my wonderful 10th grade students):

1.  “This is two pages.  I thought you said we were reading a short story?” 

Please forgive me.  I forgot that your generation grew up on emails, which, you know, were way too long and so were replaced by Instant Messages, which were also too long and replaced by text messages, which, like, are still acceptable but not as cool as “Tweets,” which take five seconds to read and require zero knowledge of grammar or Standard American English.  So allow me to rephrase the assignment: We are going to read a really, really long two-page short story.

2.  “I need all my make-up work. Now.”

Gotcha.  You want the “make-up work” that will allow you to get credit for 10 hours of class time—lectures, discussions, readings, journals, etc. in 10 minutes?  Right, that “make-up work.” I’m in the middle of teaching class right now, by the way, but don’t let my lesson on the themes in “Othello” impose on your dire need to “make-up” the last week-and-a-half of your education (which you missed because you were at The Gallery).  How about if I let you sign out a copy of “Othello” and run around and get all the assignments for you after class, so tonight, after you dump “Othello” in your locker, you can go to your friend’s house and copy/scribble everything from her?  Sound good?

3.  “What page are we on?”

I’m going to let you in on a little secret:  There’s this thing in the front of your book, it’s called a table of contents.  Yeah, that’s it.  Do you see those page numbers there, and the titles next to them?  Well, if you match the title of what we’re reading with that little number there . . . I knew you could do it!

4.  “We have a test today?”

No, I just wrote Reminder: Test this Thursday on the board all week because I like decorating my classroom with meaningless, hypothetical information.  When I said at the end of class everyday this week, “Remember, we have a test this Thursday” what I really meant was “Don’t study for the test because on Thursday, all we’re going to do in class is sit in our desks and watch YouTube videos on our iPhones.”

5.  “This class is easy.”

Of course it’s easy—when you don’t do anything.  I can’t imagine keeping-up your 50% average in here is that difficult.

6.  “I never got that.” 

You never got a copy of the assignment?  Really?  And you’re just telling me now, the day it’s due?  That’s funny, because I distinctly remember you sitting right there in your desk when I handed it out.  Now, maybe I was hallucinating that day, or maybe when I handed you the homework assignment I was really giving it to your twin brother who just returned from the French Foreign Legion, but I doubt it.  Why don’t you check in your bag and see if you have it?  There it is!  What do you know about that!

7.  “Can’t we watch a good movie?” 

Sure, we could watch what you call a “good” movie, but if we did so I’d have to throw my lesson plans into the garbage along with all the instructional objectives listed in the Common Core Standards.  Yes, “Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter” does have Abe Lincoln in it, but this doesn’t quite meet the district’s educational requirements for history or literature.  The same goes for “Piranha 3DD” (that’s DD as in brazier size), and “Zombie Dawn.”

8.  “You ain’t my dad.”

I should hope not.  If I were your dad I’d have to confront your mom and demand a paternity test ASAP, because I’ve never seen your mother before in my life (not even at parent-teacher conferences).  No, me talking to you in an authoritative voice and demanding you exhibit some semblance of character and/or core values doesn’t make me your da-da, although I’d like to have a word with your da-da, because obviously, he is either 1—asleep at the parenting switch; or 2—not in the picture at all.

9.  “It’s hot in here.” 

Being that you have on a red hoodie, a blue hoodie, and a big old puffy winter coat, I would image it is.  Maybe you might consider losing the big puffy winter coat?  Just a suggestion.

10.  “Do you miss our class?” 

(To those students who were lovable hemorrhoids, but hemorrhoids nonetheless): Yes, I miss you guys.  I cry every night.  (To those students I truly miss): Yes, absolutely, you guys are the reason I became a teacher.