Teacher Tell-all

High school students, listen up: If you want to stay on your teachers’ good side, check this advice about what annoys them — then don’t do those things.

Tom Giffey

: Totally a real local teacher.
Mr. McLearnin: Totally a real local teacher.

Ask any high school student (or anyone who’s ever been a high school student), and you’ll hear some stories about how annoying teachers can be. Like the history teacher whose lecture notes about the Civil War were laminated during the Civil War. The Spanish teacher who goes loco if you misplace an accent mark. Or the chemistry teacher whose body odor is worse than sulfur spilled on a Bunsen burner. You get the idea. But although you may not realize it, teachers also have gripes about you, high schoolers. Sure, they may love to teach you, but that doesn’t mean they love dealing with your never-ending adolescent issues, like your inability to follow simple directions, whether they involving turning in your homework, putting away your cellphones, or – for crying out loud – pulling up your pants. As a public service, we asked some Chippewa Valley high school teachers to give some advice about how not to them off. If you’d prefer to be a teacher’s pet rather than a teacher’s pet peeve, check out this list and act accordingly.

Mr. E says:

 "I can only imagine how proud you are of stealing that car or smoking whatever it was you smoked or how you totally got back at that b-word because she said that awful thing that she said. When teachers hear those admissions, the impressions they develop are something much different than pride."

Remember, I can see your screen. If you are going to blow off the research or writing time I have given you in the computer lab to surf around YouTube, remember that I can see your screen. If your essay or research project is late because you were watching modded Hondas squealing around street corners or some tubby dude play your favorite level of Call of Duty, I will not be able to find much sympathy. If your distraction was news or an author interview or – heaven forbid, a Shakespeare scene – I might be impressed enough to offer an extra day.

Oh, and I have ears. Teachers have not yet been replaced by cyborgs or, even more likely, lectures on DVD. That means the guy or gal standing at the front of the room or in the hallway has working ears, which hear all of your small talk between classes and in small groups. I can only imagine how proud you are of stealing that car or smoking whatever it was you smoked or how you totally got back at that b-word because she said that awful thing that she said. When teachers hear those admissions, the impressions they develop are something much different than pride.

Ms. A says:

Be honest. If you need to get your homework from your locker or go move your car or try to get on YouTube or Facebook, just say so! Using the bathroom or filling your water bottle as an excuse every single time only makes it appear that you have a serious medical issue or that you are just really dishonest.

Chew, then swallow. I’m cool with kids eating in my room (a lot of teachers don’t allow it). I want kids to eat if they are hungry. But I can’t stand it when someone comes up to me with a mouth crammed full of food and starts talking. Last year I said “Come back and ask me after you’ve swallowed your Cheez-Its” more times than I care I remember.

Flush the toilet. Need I say more? Yes, we need to use the same bathrooms as the kids.

Hurry up. If you come late to class don’t stroll in and casually greet all your pals in the room. Quickly enter. Consider acknowledging your tardiness, getting out your supplies, and getting to work.

Ms. B says:

Put some clothes on. Sometimes I stand in the back of my room watching kids work, and all I see, as they hunch over their desks, is a long line of butt cracks, interrupted occasionally by butt crack + thong! Ugh! And young ladies, have some self-respect! I know that makes me sound like I’m 90 or something, but nothing makes me more uncomfortable than seeing you wear shorts so short that they almost don’t exist, or tops cut so low that, as I walk around the room, no matter how much I try to avert my eyes, I see way more of you girls than I ever wanted! And young gentlemen, waistbands go around waists, or at least above your, umm, manhood. Wearing your pants below your butt so that you have to hold them up with your hands as you waddle down the hall just makes you look like a toddler with a full diaper.

Don’t whine to Mom and Dad. Yes, the assignment I gave was fair. Yes, I gave you time to work on it in class. And yes, everyone else in the room got it done. No, I wasn’t targeting you unfairly. No, I don’t hate you. And no, I didn’t say whatever it is that you inventively told your parents I said, and I have an entire room of students to back me up! So yes, I think you’re being a baby if you go home and lie to your parents about what actually happened. Conflicts between teachers and students happens. The best solution is to have a good, honest talk with me about what’s going on. Need more time? Talk to me, and maybe I’ll be understanding. Upset with something I said or did? Try asking me about it after class. Involving other angry people rarely defuses the situation and only puts up more roadblocks to collaborative learning. Oh, and you could also try not being a jerk in class, too. I’m trying to “make you” learn stuff. So how about if you just sit down, shut up and learn once in a while?

Try new things. The main goal of many high schoolers is simply to fit in. They just want to keep a low profile: get in, get out, and go home. Too many kids come to school on a bus, go home on the bus, and then sit at home alone and look at a screen for the rest of the night. Join a club or a sport. Stay after school and chat with a teacher. Volunteer somewhere. We have something for everyone: arts, sports, and diverse clubs like chess or fishing or cultural groups. Put yourself out there a bit and you will make new friends, gain experiences for a college or job résumé, and have fun.

Appreciate your education. Yes. I know. Shocking concept. Poor you, forced by big meanies to attend this institution every day when you’d rather stay home and play video games or sleep until The Big Bang Theory comes on. But when you consider that this is the one time in your life where every adult around you is working to help you have a better future, why not take a moment and savor that? Try to actually learn the stuff we’re foisting on you, rather than puking out answers for a test and then erasing it from your memory. Become an active participant instead of a passive spectator in your own education. And really, truly try to wrap your head around this: In many nations around the world, girls are fighting and dying for the right to have an education. Whole groups of evil people (like Boko Haram) are trying to prevent these young women from learning because the men in power understand that knowledge and education is power. So why, oh why, would you want to squander your best chance to have power over your life and your future? Well, perhaps the fact that you’re 14 and don’t really get it yet has something to do with it? Yeah, that, and the fact that maybe your own parents, or even American society as a whole, do not value public education, and waste valuable resources trying to discredit our teachers and de-fund our schools. Crap. I give up!