• 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.
  • Riff.
  • Pause.
  • Take questions.
  • Repeat.
  • 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.