Category Archives: Bad Teacher Blog Feature

Bad Teacher Blog Feature #3 (How to get your kids to read gooder)


In my experience, elementary school kids can pay attention for no longer than 20 seconds at a time. So, if you’re in the library with them, and you want to recommend a book that will teach them something worth knowing (as opposed to “The Behind the Scenes Guide to the Star Wars movies” or something like that), that’s how long you have to pitch them. I imagine it’s a little like pitching big time book editors or a Hollywood studio head in this way.

Also, as when you’re pitching a studio head, you probably want to use a simple approach (save the five dollar words for another time), and do make sure they can relate to what you say because these books are going to be competing with video games wherein they get to shoot rocket grenades at zombies. In other words, you better make Chris Columbus look really fracking good if you ever want your kid to read the damn thing!

Here are my examples for how to pitch biographies of important and famous people of the past and present to kids!

1. Abraham Lincoln – He was the president who freed the slaves. He also wore a sweet top hat, and it wasn’t even Halloween!

2. Eli Whitney — invented something called the cotton gin. It sounds boring, but you know the shirt that covers up your dad’s hairy back, you can thank the cotton gin for that one

3. Buzz Aldrin – the second person to step on the moon. And, more importantly, the inspiration for Buzz Lightyear!

4. Martin Luther King Jr. – An amazing man who fought for equal rights for black people. IF you get a blank stare, tell them he’s also the reason we get a day off from school every January. This they will appreciate.

5. Thomas Edison- invented the phonograph. A phonograph is like a record player. A record player is like a CD player. A CD….oh for shitsakes. Let’s just say he invented the iPod, okay?

6. Albert Einstein- you know how you’re the smartest kid in your class, well this guy was the smartest person in the world. His teachers didn’t even think he was smart. Oops!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bad Teacher blog feature #2 (Elementary School Kids Are Weird)

A few weeks ago, we started up the new school year at my elementary school. This year I have a different role than the one I have had in year’s past. I am no longer teaching physical education, but instead I am helping out in a Special Education capacity (after spending much of my twenties working for a city newspaper, I’m still trying to figure out what exactly I want to do with my professional life for the long-term, although I know it has something to do with elementary education).

I love the begining of the school year for all of the obvious reasons. The big one is that it’s just really wonderful to see the kids after a summer has passed. They run up to you, blasting your name out — wanting to show you their new bike or the holes in their mouth where their front teeth used to be. And, as a teacher, you’re genuinely excited to see them too.

Anyway, all that being said, there are some odd aspects of working at a school, and these are quirks that you get at any elementary school, no matter where you work. The kids are so self-centered (it’s natural at that age) that they only see you as wearing a single hat (the teacher one), and nearly lose their minds when they spot you outside of class. They also assume that as an adult working at a school, you know everything that is happening at that school at all times. For a guy like me, in his late twenties (okay 30) and still in an “everything is about me” phase of his life — someone that doesn’t go home every day to a houseful of kids, but rather goes home to do young people stuff — it can be perfectly bizarre to see the way these kids view you.

So two days ago, at 8:30 am, I am heading to the classroom in which I work when I spot this 6th grader. He’s a boy I know fairly well because I worked with him last year during phys ed classes and at recess, refereeing soccer games. I haven’t seen him this year yet, though, because I am no longer teaching P.E classes, but rather I am spending all my time in a 3rd grade classroom as a teacher’s aide.

This boy is a good-natured kid; he’s not an angel but what kid is at that age. He has a twin brother and he and his twin used to constantly annoy each other, to the point where they weren’t allowed to play the same game at the same time ever.

Anyway, when I spot him, I say something like, “Mark! I can’t believe I haven’t seen you yet this year. How are you doing buddy?”

He’s in a straight, quiet line with his classmates, walking to his classroom, and I know he’s not supposed to be talking, but I figure what’s the harm in saying hi to the kid.

In response, Marc smiles wide in my direction and raises his hand to say hi. Suddenly he’s letting students behind him pass him by, as he steps aside, motioning for me to come over and talk to him away from the line, as if he’s got some important business to discuss. I figure we’re gonna be catching up — saying things like, “hey, great to see you,” “what did you do this summer?”, “learn any new soccer tricks this summer?” — after all I haven’t seen this kid for three and a half months.

But, no.

The boy pulls me over to the side, and without a trace of irony, says with a very quizzical look on his face,

“Ian! Ian! is there band today?”

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New “Bad Teacher” blog feature (Chapter 1: I lied to a preschooler the other day)


A few days ago, a preschooler asked me what the antenna did on a car

or as he put it

that “thin silver thingie that goes up and down”

I was about to answer when it occurred to me that my grasp of radio science wasn’t exactly strong

and that even if that were not the case,

he probably would have gotten bored midway through my explanation and returned to his car drawing

so I lied

“Oh that thing? That’s just the ice cream man detector

it tells you whether an ice cream truck is nearby

if it goes up, then chances are he’s within a mile or so

if it doesn’t then he’s very far away, in another town.”

it wasn’t my proudest moment

and I’m not certain he believed me.

After I said it,

this boy who has only known me for a week now

chuckled to himself

then looked at my expression to see whether I was being serious

before turning to another classmate to tell her about

what I had said with regard to the ice cream truck locator

you may think what I did wrong

but I assure you it was for the kid’s benefit

because, you see, as a teacher you can’t ever not know

I once saw a colleague try that approach

with a kid

who was asking “how is it that an airplane can fly?”

The teacher, bless her heart, replied simply, “you know Grace, I don’t know.”

well, that poor girl

turned to stone right in the middle of storytime

and sure she became an interesting piece of art from then on

but her parents weren’t thrilled at their new acquisition

So these days I never hesitate to lie to a youngster

about all sorts of things

meteorology, computers, how the internet works, why parrots can talk, why ice is slippery, why some kids are mean poopyheads, what causes a rainbow, and yes, just what exactly an antenna has to do with Justin Bieber belting out songs inside the family Versa.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,