Tag Archives: high school students

‘Dinging on my thingy’: Things I overheard this week

Rockford College University, 2 May 2015

Rockford College University, 2 May 2015

“I found it on the floor,” said student as she returned from a trip to the bathroom with a cupcake in hand. As others teased her, she said, “it was a chocolate frickin’ cupcake,” to which classmate added, “of sh*t!”

“Nice job last night,” said an old man I didn’t know as he was walking behind me at Wal-Mart on Tuesday April 28th. Then he said, “You didn’t hear me, did you?” and again he said, “Nice job last night.” I said I was at home last night, washing dishes. He apologized, as he’d confused me for someone else. I said, “I don’t mind being complimented on my dishes.”

One sophomore boy to another, after the latter had said “chupacabra” in some comment to the class: “Yay — chupacabra!” and fist-bumped the latter student. I said I needed to write that down on my pocket-page where I collected quotes. A girl said, “it becomes funnier when you say you have to write it down.”

That same girl later said to her friend and classmate, who was confused about an assignment, “See, I told you you were stupid.”

Ant hills

Ant hills

“THAT’S why you don’t ride horses bareback when they’re in heat,” said student, explaining why she had scrapes and bruises on her face and arms.

“Are you on some good pain meds?” I asked a student who had just come back to school after having open-knee surgery. She laughed and said, “Heheehee, yeah.”

Outside Colman Library, Rockford College University, 3 May 2015

Outside Colman Library, Rockford College University, 3 May 2015

“How long does it take a person to see there’s nothing!?!” I heard myself say of a driver who was durably stopped at a four-way stop sign. I was just complaining about a fellow human’s judgment, but then I realized that line could also be a philosophically significant point about ideas being nothing at all.

“Would that be grammarly correct?” a student asked of a particular phrase on April 29. He did later correct himself with “grammatically.”

“If anyone cares, my heels are bleeding,” announced student to me and her 10th hour classmates.

That same girl, the next day, said about using public toilets: “You gotta hover! You gotta hover!”

“They spelled all of my names wrong,” said a girl with three names of a local-newspaper article in which she was wrongly named.

At Kishwaukee College, 28 March 2015

At Kishwaukee College, 28 March 2015

“I don’t care; it’s mine,” said a senior boy after his friend pointed out flaws in the model airplane the boy had just purchased for two dollars from a teacher who’s leaving at the end of the semester.

“One day it’s like, ‘huh-huh, huh-huh’; the other, it’s ‘heh-heh, heh-heh,” said a senior girl describing another girl’s changing laugh.

“But he’s still alive, you know,” said the woman teaching the graduate-level education class I took last weekend, of her husband buying heart medicine in Mexico over her objections.

Rock River beach at Byron, IL, 25 March 2015

Rock River beach at Byron, IL, 25 March 2015

Junior student said if she would start to plan a murder, she’d “just give up because it’s too much work. I’m serious, honestly,” she said.

Student said of her classmate, “She’s like a teddy bear.” “I am,” said second student. “No, you’re not — you’re a bitch,” said first student.

“A word is a thing on the move, a word is a process,” said linguist John McWhorter on NPR’s All Things Considered.

At high school baseball games on April 30th, one woman yelled at a boy who was pitching: “C’mon, Taylor, put it in there,” and after he threw a called strike, she said something like “Right there” or maybe “There it is.” A different woman at a nearby game said of the team she supported, “We’re getting ’em out there; we’re just leavin’ ’em out there.”

Sine function models, sort of.

The sine function incarnate, sort of.

“You live to serve,” a young-ish man at the seminar said to his 50-something female colleague, as he asked her to get him something. “Why can’t YOU live to serve?” she replied. “I’m only 37,” he said.

Later on, that same woman said of cultural sensitivity, that teachers are not supposed to ignore cultural differences but celebrate them. “You’re supposed to go with a guy and do hookah,” she gave as an example. I wrote this down and read it back to her and she at first denied that she had said it, but then, “No, I DID say that, didn’t I?” she admitted.

“I can’t afford an Ess-You-Vee, but THEY’VE got ’em,” said a middle-aged female teacher, comparing her material wealth to those who claim to be poor.

“That was you dinging on my thingy just now,” said a teacher colleague of mine after I had sent her an email that caused an audible alert on her computer.

Ice, Ogle County, 5 March 2015

Ice, Ogle County, 5 March 2015

“Don’t f__king look at my veins,” said a student who told us she was denied the ability to donate blood because her veins were too small, or something.

“Um-um-um-um-um, can I teach?” asked a student in my 10th hour class, a question she’s asked on about 20 prior days. I’ve said “no” every time before saying “yes” today, and she did a decent job leading our class through reading part of Book 13 of The Odyssey and then supervising essay-writing time.

“Too bad you’re gonna go back to her, just like you always do,” said one senior boy to another in the parking lot after school on 4 May.

I was getting slap-happy tired when I took this picture, but something about there being anything "upcoming" about classics struck me as funny.

I was getting slap-happy tired when I took this picture, but something about there being anything “upcoming” about classics struck me as funny.

‘What I’m doing NOW as opposed to what I’m doing NOW’: This week in quotes

Two tulips, 10 May 2014

Two tulips, 10 May 2014. This picture was taken a year ago, but stuff this week looked pretty much like this anyway.

“Would you birds stop flying in front of me!” I heard myself say last Wednesday morning as I drove on a road where I had hit a robin a day or so earlier.
A senior in my creative writing class advised his classmates that graduation is drawing near: “[These are the] final days — if you wanna get suspended, get suspended now!” His statement reminded me of the final days of my own high school experience, when the school’s dean of students told me that my classmate Wade had decided to skip a day of school and had gotten a day of in-school suspension, just to try it and the dean warned me not to be like Wade.
But 23 years later, I found myself in in-school suspension anyway, where as a teacher now, I supervise that room one hour a day. This past week, an intelligent student was assigned to the In-School Suspension room, where the punishment includes copying the student handbook by hand. This observant student said, “I’m finding a lot of loopholes here” in the handbook, including this one: “It says ‘under the influence of drug paraphernalia.’ How would THAT work?”
Teeth-of-the-lion flowers, 10 May 2014

Teeth-of-the-lion flowers, 10 May 2014

In my “Rhetoric & Composition” class, where we’re writing philosophical arguments, a student stayed after class to argue about whether time is real: “Without time, how do we explain what I’m doing NOW as opposed to what I’m doing NOW.”
On my classroom whiteboard this week, I wrote that the date was “Friday 55th March 2015,” as I’m following T.S. Eliot’s assertion that “April is the cruellest month” and I’m refusing to acknowledge this month. I’m counting dates from March until it’s May. A student who wasn’t hip to my system walked into and then out of my classroom, and I heard her say from the hallway, “55th of March? ‘Cuz there’s 55 days in one month?”
More teeth-of-the-lion flowers, from 10 May 2014, but which could've been taken this week ending 26 April 2015.

More teeth-of-the-lion flowers, from 10 May 2014, but which could’ve been taken this week ending 26 April 2015.

 A senior girl in my writing class said she wanted to go to our school’s “Ag Day” display of tractors and farm animals. “I wanna hold a chick,” she said. “In a different context, that was my interior monologue” all throughout my own days as a high school student, I responded.
Ag Day is when some of my rural high-school’s FFA students bring in things most of us drive past everyday. I told a fellow teacher that what we SHOULD have is an “Urban Day,” where we teach our small-town students how to navigate a bus schedule and an elevator. We could even bring well-dressed professionals from Chicago’s Loop for our students to gawk at, and we’d pen up the professionals, the same as we do for the sheep — to keep them from running away.
On 26 April about 5 p.m., I heard, from my neighbor’s garage, his voice saying to one of his young children, “tell me what you want. You’re NOT having toast. You can have peanut butter and jelly, a hot dog, or ravioli.” 

‘We Need More Bus’: My Students Explain Things

Here are things I’ve overheard my high school students say in recent days.

1. “I hate gravity because it throws my stuff on the ground,” said student.

2. “Sometimes when I tuck in my shirt, I tuck in my hair, too, ” said long-haired student.

3. “I got in trouble because I was lookin’ up cat herpes or something, ” said senior student.

4. “It’ll be funny SOMEday,” said senior girl after a senior boy sustained an injury while engaged in what the oldtimers would have unironically called “horseplay. ”

5. “We need more bus,” said a student on a school bus that was more full than usual but wasn’t actually all that full. “Double up. Quit your whining,” deadpanned the bus driver.

6. “I’m not that smart, I promise,” said sophomore student after I told her to stay away from my computer so I didn’t suspect her of changing grades.

7. “This is from, like, a decade ago,” said senior girl as she turned in an assignment due 3 weeks ago. “You did this when you were 8?” I replied.

8. “I want to be a satyr,” said sophomore boy as our class discussed the Greek god Dionysus and his followers. “Are you saying you don’t have big man-parts?” asked sophomore girl.

Things I actually heard myself say in class this week

1. “James, get your head out of my armpit,” I said to a student. I had my right hand on a computer between two students, when the one on the right leaned his noggin under my arm in order to see what was on his neighbor’s computer screen.

2. “[Adderall is] not prescribed for underaged drinkers with hangovers,” I responded to a student who had told the class his hangover cure was “water, greasy food, and Adderall.”

3. When a student offered me the opportunity to play in the tackle football game he was organizing with his friends, he told me that the game would be “touch football for you.” I RSVP’d, “I don’t want to be touched by that many people.”

4. When I told students that the music they were hearing during their journaling time was by Stan Getz, a student responded, “Is he rich?” I said, “Stan Getz? I don’t know.” This wasn’t the first time this particular student has, seemingly seriously, asked me questions that seem more like non sequitors.