That was my word for today.

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(Chili’s note; I wanted to call them “dumbasses,”  to their faces, but the term “dumbness” applied as a general observation rather than an individual label was far more appropriate for the classroom setting.)

So here’s another one in the category of “I can’t MAKE this shit up.”

Today was the day that I handed out new books to my students; we begin discussing A Christmas Carol next week, and I wanted to get them started on the reading this weekend.  Before classes began, I took all the copies of the story, tipped them on their sides, and wrote “CHS” and a number on each one.  Then, I got a new book sign-out sheet, put “A Christmas Carol” across the top, and listed the books 1-20.

Still with me here?  I know it seems fussy to go over the details, but trust me; they’re important to my story.

So, the end of my first class rolls around and I ask the kids who among them needs a copy of the book (many of them already have one, so they don’t need a school copy).  Seven hands go up, so I pass out the books and hand the sign out sheet to the first kid.  “Sign out the book you have and pass it on to the next person.  Please make sure the last person gets the list to me when you’re done, please!” I say as I head out of the room.

The “last person” brings me the sign out sheet.  She’s signed out book seven.  Books four and six are blank.

Here I’m thinking, “Are you fucking kidding me?!  WHO’S got books four and six?!”

I lost my shit in a way that was, to be honest, pretty funny (I had to mask it in humor because I was so astounded at this newest level of idiocy that I was afraid I’d really hurt someone’s feelings).  I marched into my colleague’s classroom, asked him if I could have his class for a moment (he said “sure!”  I think he knew from the look in my eye that this was the only acceptable response) and I played out the following scene.

ALL RIGHT!  Everyone in Mrs. Chili’s English class, stand up!  Everyone NOT in Mrs. Chili’s class, sit the heck down, because this doesn’t concern you and believe me, you don’t want it to!

(five kids stand up).

JENNA!  What book number do you have, Honey?

Jenna: Three!

(I consult the list) GREAT!  Good girl!  Sit down, please.

DANIEL!  What book number do you have?

Daniel: Huh?

Book number, Sweet; what number is on the book I gave you?

Daniel: Huh?

Daniel, DARLING; would you please bring me your book?

Daniel comes to the front of the class with his book.  I remove it from his hands, show him the number (he had 6) and bop him on the forehead with it.

DANIEL!  Sign out your stinking book!  GAH!  DUMBNESS!!

I did this with FIVE other kids in two separate classrooms (I’ve got great colleagues; have I mentioned that lately?)  In fact; Daniel and Melody failed to sign out their books at all; Peter (my boy genius), Bobby, and Serena just put their names in random spots without regard to what book number they had, so I had to straighten THAT out.


Needless to say, I was pretty worked up by the time I started my III/IV class, and it was a good thing I’d set the day aside as a workshop day for their papers, because I was in no condition to be leading a class (of course, they’re all laughing at me by this point, even the kids who were the recipients of head-boppings and cries of “DUMBNESS!”).

I did make the mistake, however, of asking the big kids to sign back IN some of their books (“what the hell?” I figured; I already had the book log out).  One of my geniuses went to his locker and retrieved his book, then stood there next to me in front of the log that was open next to my computer.

No, I mean it; he just stood there……

For a really long time….

MIKE!  What are you doing, Honey?

Mike: Huh?

No, really; what are you doing?

Mike: I don’t know what you want me to do.

Mike, are you KIDDING me right now?  Give me your book, please.

He hands me his book, and I bop him on the forehead with it.  He starts to laugh (good thing, because I did, too).

MIKE!  HONEY!  See this number right here? (I angle the book on its side so he can see the number written on the top.)

Mike: Yeah.

See THIS number right HERE? (I point to the book number next to his name on the log.)

Mike: Yeah.

Are they the SAME number?

Mike: Yeah.

GREAT!  Put today’s date in “date returned,” then go sit the heck down before I whack you again!




Filed under dumbassery, failure, funniness, I can't make this shit up..., I love my job, You're kidding...right?

10 responses to “Dumbness

  1. Jennifer

    I’d be shaking my head in disbelief if I hadn’t seen so many similar stories from other teachers. Instead I’m laughing. I love how you handled the kids!

  2. This would be funny if it weren’t so familiar! Sometimes their levels of stupidity still stop me in my tracks and sometimes I have to laugh out loud to stop myself from crying. The worst examples are when they are *so* dumb that you are sure they must be in on a joke that you haven’t figured out yet.

  3. You know what’s funny, you guys? I was a little nervous posting this. I mean, It’s really not okay to call out kids for being stupid (and believe me, I did it; loudly and to everyone in the school). I knew, though, that none of this would be news to anyone who’s ever been in a high school classroom, though, so I posted it anyway. Besides, I’m still laughing about it (and MAN, but it felt good to whack kids in the noggins with their own books!)..

  4. Melissa

    I think you handled it exactly right by using humor! I am teaching freshmen for the first time this year and they continue to surprise me with their immaturity and downright cluelessness sometimes.

  5. Oh, I just found you and I already love you! I am a new teacher of mostly freshman and sophomores, and your blog will be a great pick-me-up! Thanks for sharing!

  6. jrh

    And now you know why I take a roster of their names and write down their book numbers next to them MYSELF. 🙂

    But, yeah, I hear you. Sigh.

  7. You are kinder (if I can use this word) than I would be. I understand your frustration here. Some really are stupid.

  8. dkzody

    Did you really whack them with the book? I think we would be fired, if not jailed, for doing that. And second, none of my colleagues would let me come into their room and do what you did. They would have ME committed and tell the principal it is time for the lady to retire (which it is). Oh, and another thing, you have students who have their OWN copy of a book? Where do YOU teach?

  9. It's me

    Imagine teaching 7th graders. I’m giving instructions in 2nd grade terminology. I repeat the instructions. I HAVE to repeat the instructions. I ask if anyone has any questions. No? I proceed to proceed. A hand goes up. “Yes?,” I ask. “Uh…what did you say do?” This from a boy who was in the first row right in front of me – about one 12 inches away. We had been looking in each other’s eyes while I was giving instructions. I couldn’t answer him. I could do nothing but stare at him. Even the other kids mocked him.

    Other times, after delivering thorough instructions, or going over a lesson in great detail, a hand would go up, and I’d have the termerity to think it was related to the topic. No…they wanted to know if they could go to the restroom, get some tissue, call home, find out what time it was…anything but a question about what was being discussed.

    I realize these are just kids, but their total lack of focus caused me to repeat myself over and over, or be waylaided by scattered gibberish.

    Why can’t they be like I was…hiding my ignorance and not being so eager to showcase it to the public?

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