Things I Don’t Want My Students to Know

From the time I’ve woken up to the time my first student doesn’t return my practiced good-morning smile, I’ve made more regrettable decisions than a drunk kleptomaniac in an unsupervised museum gift shop. Why do I do these things, I’ve asked myself while laying on my kitchen floor instead of cooking breakfast like a functional adult. Why do I leave grading to the last minute, and then immediately turn around and tell my students not to procrastinate on their papers. I am a living, scowling hypocrite of unreal proportions, and I absolutely can never let my students know that. I may have stayed up until 2 in the morning drinking, but I still have to come to class and tell a student to please stop watching videos of synchronized dancing when you’re supposed to be working on anything in the world except synchronized dancing.

I know you want to see them nail the pirouette, but it’s really not the time right now

During my first semester teaching, I forgot to write my lesson plan. I remember that day clearly because I was bored for a few hours before class and just sat in my office playing with my stapler and doodling. I was like a bunny in a meadow, peacefully munching a flower and scratching my big bunny ears just before a thermonuclear strike–so oblivious, so fluffy, so utterly annihilated by what would come to pass. I realized I had nothing planned once the early students asked me what we were doing that day. My answer went something like “We’re going to… do… work. Writing,” and then the bees in my brain started screaming at me to abandon the class, run to the woods, live in exile.

You should BEE in the woods! But really, all joking aside, get to the forest immediately

I did not run to the woods–and it’s a little disappointing how many times I’ve had to battle that impulse. Instead, while students trickled into class, I panicked and threw something together that could take the entire hour with little direct intervention from me. Most of the class was spent writing or drawing, and I think some videos were involved. I remember rolling around the room in one of their desks I had commandeered. I remember wondering how long it would take them to realize that this entire hour had been thrown together in a few frantic minutes and that their teacher is a fraud.

Apparently, my students never noticed that I am an imposter. They treated the day like any other, and nobody stopped me in the hall to say I was going to be sent back to re-do my undergrad because of that sorry display in there.

The cost of one day without any mention of politics is about 40 of these

I’ve come to the conclusion that the most important thing my students can never know about me is how laughably close I am everyday to things just falling apart. I know teachers who lesson plan months in advance, who schedule extra office hours, who buy things for their students, who write personalized notes to every kid at the end of the semester, but then there’s me buying pizza for my class because they didn’t mention politics the day after the election, and I had to use a coupon one of them brought to class.

I tell my students that as the semester progresses, my hair will gain fluffiness directly proportionate to how close I am to losing my mind. For 8 out of 16 weeks, I look like Einstein struck by lightning. With every narrow escape from everything going three species of pear-shaped, I look less like a teacher, and more like the English department’s very own mad scientist.

Replace the key with a pen, the red hair with brown, the beard with a bare memory of a chin, and the lab coat with something not as cool, and you got me

12 Replies to “Things I Don’t Want My Students to Know”

  1. I’m not sure what age group you’re working with. If it’s high school, I suppose you have to keep quiet. I’ve never taught high school so I guess it was easier for me. I just told the college kids the truth about these things like drinking too much. Working with adults has its perks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ‘ and then the bees in my brain started screaming at me to abandon the class, run to the woods, live in exile.I did not run to the woods–and it’s a little disappointing how many times I’ve had to battle that impulse.’ – what’s stopping you? is it even more disappointing that there are no proper woods left to hide from civilization???

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hehehe if that’s what you want to be, then any couch will do. Is the really reason for not going Moira? Did she put all her feet down??? She hates wild cats, doesn’t she???


  3. Hi! I’ve been messing around on your blog since you liked my post, trying to find a way to contact you. 😉 I really like everything I’ve seen so far–which is saying something, seeing as I’m pretty judgemental. Haha. That aside, I wanted to thank you for liking my post. I made my blog a few months ago and posted a few things from my creative writing class, English 101 class, or even just personal things I decided weren’t horrible enough to be kept locked away in my Google Drive forever. Anyway, today I decided, “Hey! I should really post my research writing on here!” and so, I did. Seeing that somebody liked it made me happy; seeing that that somebody is an English teacher made me ECSTATIC. I am actually just starting college and I am going for secondary English education–I even graduated as a junior with all of my “junior college” English credits out of the way. I guess I’m kind of bragging, but I figured this information could give you insight as to why I was so excited to see that you liked it…haha. Thank you again; you really made my day! And as a future English teacher myself, this is absolutely going to be me…whether or not it’s actually a good thing. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always encourage my students to actually do something with their research–even if it’s hurling it at the internet to see what happens. It’s nice to see someone posting academic just because they want to.

      Good luck with teaching. I think you’ll love it, and it’ll hurt you, and you’ll love that too.


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