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August 24, 2021
I’m the Badass New Teacher at This High School, and This Is My MasterClass
- On day one, be seen taking your students out for a walk. Send a message. The message is: Here I am. Also: This is not a big deal.
- When you return to the classroom, don’t explain the transcendentalist implications of the walk. You are not, after all, John Keating from Dead Poets Society.
- Don’t object to the comparison.
- Tell students you don’t do icebreakers. Discuss yourself.
- When you run out of things to say, open it up for questions. Tell them nothing is off limits.
- When they ask about your relationship status, move to an icebreaker.
- Arrange the desks in a circle.
- Tell students there’s no hierarchy in this class.
- Sit at the head of the circle.
- Take questions.
- Tell the students you won’t be assigning “homework” or “tests” this year. Tell them there won’t be “grades,” and there won’t even really be “class.”
- Pause to let this sink in.
- Wonder: What the hell am I saying?
- Show up late to class.
- Dump your bag on the floor.
- Don’t sit down.
- Sit down.
- Correct students as they read aloud.
- Joke, like, all the time.
- Get angry.
- Threaten to flip out.
- Never do.
- Once a week, have them get up with their things and switch seats.
- Be seen by students while smoking a cigarette at the bus stop.
- Sit with students at lunch.
- Bald interestingly.
- Blow off a staff meeting.
- Blow off a department meeting.
- Blow off a teacher-mentor meeting. Your friends who have real jobs, they don’t go to “meetings.” Well, they do, but…
- Wear eyeliner to the winter faculty gala. Leave ten minutes in.
- Submit that awesome poem you wrote in college to the school literary magazine.
- Boycott the school literary magazine.
- Threaten to hijack the school literary magazine.
- When your teacher-mentor says kids today don’t “get it” like they used to, think: Shut up…
- When the students turn in their Catcher in the Rye papers, promise to return them after winter break.
- Return from winter break with a scarf.
- Have graded zero papers.
- Switch to assigned seating.
- Sit alone at lunch.
- Hold office hours in the bleachers on a gray day.
- Claim to see a student’s hand in the air.
- Claim you’ll get to him in a second.
- Never do.
- Defend any accusation with “Dude…”
- When the students ask, “When are we getting our papers back?” laugh out loud.
- Go to odd lengths to reveal your tattoo.
- When your students don’t ask you about it, say, “Class dismissed.”
- When word comes down that you’ll be fired unless you grade the Catcher in the Rye papers, grade them. What the hell. It’s your “job,” after all.
- As you come to the end of each paper, salute it. Put letter grades in quotation marks.
- Wear jeans under your slacks.
- Consider quitting the profession.
- Consider graduate school.
- Consider your finances.
- Have the students read silently for an entire class period.
- Sit in a daze.
- Out of nowhere, open the book and start reading.
- Close by asserting some of your opinions. Ask a student what they think.
- Chaperone a dance. When you see a group of kids huddling around a boy and a girl, get in there.
- Say, “Break it up.”
- Say, “That’s not a toy.”
- Report the incident to the dean.
- Sit with a drunk student in an empty science lab while the dean calls the kid’s parents. Layer the student’s desk with paper towels.
- Concede to baldness by shaving your head.
- Set up your voicemail.
- Join the disciplinary committee.
- Agree to mentor a hotshot rookie next fall.
- As you close the final class meeting of the year, hold for applause.
- When it doesn’t happen, wait for the students to stand on their desks.
- When they don’t, exit in silence.
- Return to get your bag.
- Consider writing a memoir about your teaching experiences.
- Consider writing a how-to book about writing the memoir.
- Abandon the memoir.
- Query an agent for the how-to book.
- Return from summer break with a beard.
- Pose for the staff ID.
- Join a carpool.
- Go on a blind date.
- Apply for the GAP credit card.
- Explain to the hotshot rookie that students these days don’t “get it” like they used to.
- Abandon the carpool.
- Claim to have found romance on the bus.
- Start taking the bus again.
- Seek romance.
- Get easy things wrong. Give students the thrill of correcting you.
- Answer a student’s cell phone to wild approval.
- Clip your ID to a lanyard.
- Layer it over your tie.
- Threaten to retire.
- Never do.
- Sit with the faculty at lunch.
- Straddle the chair.
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