12 Times It’s Been Worse

The saddest toddler in the world.
I am in my fifth year of teaching middle school English at a Title I school, and, for the most part, the skies are sunny. I have classroom management in the bag. Lesson planning is almost second nature. I can write a test in 30 minutes that is better and harder than the one that the state gives. It’s the 7th week of school and I haven’t had to refill my pencil cup yet. Things are pretty boss.
That being said, I still have days that make me want to sit under my desk and weep and never come out (it’s usually during DEVOLSON).
When those days happen, I usually resort to thumbing through my Happy Binder where I keep old letters/drawings from students, putting “Chocolate” by The 1975 on Pandora, or getting a s’mores cupcake from a local bakery on my way home from work and eating it in about 2.43 bites.
But when that doesn’t work, I think about the 12 Times It’s Been Worse.
12 Times It’s Been Worse

1) The time I was talking to my appraiser and a huge, flaky booger floated out of my nose like an autumn leaf and landed on my shoulder. I was wearing a dark turtleneck. He definitely noticed and stared at it for the rest of our conversation.

2) The time I had a student vomit in the doorway right before my students were dismissed for a pep rally. I had to spot thirty middle schoolers as they long-jumped over a pile of barf.

3) The time I bought a new shirt, wore it to school on Monday, dripped pizza sauce on it at lunch, then applied a Tide To-Go pen to it. Except it wasn’t a Tide To-Go pen. It was White Out. And it never came out.

4)  The time my former principal made me write her essays for her to get into an Ivy League principal’s institute and I did it because I was too afraid to tell her no. (She got in.)

5) The time during my first year when I took two students in the hall to talk about respect and they laughed at me, so I cried RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM. (They kept laughing.)

6) The time I thought I had just had a breakthrough with a student just before he flipped over his desk and stormed out of the room.

7) The time I was teaching and hundreds of termites started flying out of a hole in the wall.

8) The times (plural) I had a substitute show up who was clearly hung over.

9) The time my students duct-taped each other to chairs when my substitute didn’t show up.

10) The time a hot, boiled roach floated to the top of my cup of coffee from my school Keurig. (I noticed this before taking a sip, ergo, God exists and He loves me.)

11) The time my phone went off during an observation from my supervisor while I was student teaching. It was my mom calling. And I’d set her ringtone to “99 Problems.” Because there was/is something wrong with my head.

12) 95% of my first year. And 75% of my second.
But you know something? As bad as my bad days have been, I’ve still never had a kid poop on my desk. That happened to someone I know in Washington D.C.
He teaches high school.
Bye now.


  1. Pattertwig

    Oo oo…. 10 is sick! Yuck!!
    May I add a happy and a crappy? Hehe!

    Make it better?
    – Coming home from a late night at work, and realizing there is left over ice cream sandwiches that a friend brought over this weekend!! Yes! It sure made tonight better! That's for sure!

    It could have been worse?
    -The time my co worker took the day off and his kids organized themselves into differentiated teams by skill and began a pencil and scissors war when the substitute fell asleep. By the time the sub woke up, the students had turned the desks, and were defending their forts. She stood up and shouted, "Cease fire!" To 6the graders! LoL!

  2. Jennifer Reynolds

    Thank you–once again–for reminding me that indeed "the sun will come out tomorrow!" And to hide the duct tape from my 2nd graders the next time we have a substitute! HA!
    Stories and Songs in Second

  3. Anonymous

    The time (yesterday) that I watched a kid chew and swallow a really dirty bandaid from their foot while grinning at me the whole time.

  4. Jo Beth Jimerson

    The time one of my 7th graders picked my keys up off of my desk and wanted to see what would happen if he sprayed my pepper spray in class… And I thought someone was spraying cologne and walked into the cloud sniffing… Yeah. Good 1st year times.

    1. Kim

      I'm just starting me second. You will, one day at a time, but you will. Just remember, if you feel like you're always scrambling and staying a day (or an hour) ahead, that's what first year is usually like. My cooperating teacher called it being in survival mode. But survive you will!

  5. Anonymous

    I once left my school lunch bag in the trunk of my car after the last day of school. With a half-eaten sandwich and an apple left in it . In 110 degree Phoenix weather. The whole summer.

  6. Kim

    This was excellent, definitely the inspiration for my post in our school's weekly teacher newsletter. Hopefully my staff members will get in the spirit and post some of their "times it's been worse".

    Mine: the time during a fire drill when, in the middle of scolding a student for fooling around on the muddy/slippery hill, I fell down said muddy/slippery hill. In dress pants. And heels.

  7. Robin Cederblad

    My first year teaching…in walks the principal to observe as 8 English teachers are being RIFfed. First I had to correct a mistake I'd made the day before teaching JULIUS CAESAR. Then instead of saying "part," I said "fart." I thought I was a goner; I stayed 33 more years.

    I was 7 months pregnant with our daughter. Four students were standing around my desk. I had to sneeze but tried to hold it in. No such luck. I sneezed fairly quietly but farted rather loudly. Silence. I looked around and said "I farted, I'm pregnant, get over it." The room exploded in laughter.

    Early in my career I was showing a DVD, which I had recorded the night before. I'd watched about half of it and went to bed. This was at a time when the DVR could be set for a time to record a certain channel….didn't know the husband had already set the timer. Next day I'm showing the film to juniors and the word "Desire" flashes onto the screen. Hmmm. Then the girl wearing the guy's shirt and the guy in the bed whose bottom half is covered by the sheet. I turn around the tv, fast forward, and the 38 DDs appear on the screen. I turn off the tv and run into the lounge next door. I get my husband (at school) and yell at him about messing up my dvd and giving me porn instead of "Fried Green Tomatoes." Four teachers sitting at the table are hysterical. I go back to my room…the kids are silent, sitting at their desks with hands folded. Then I notice all the open windows; they'd heard every word. It took years to live this one down.

    Write down the stories and keep them with the cards, notes and pictures you get. When you retire (as I did five years ago) you will have a wealth of memories to help you remember just how much you love(d) this crazy job of ours.

  8. Anonymous

    Another LOL post, Teach. I've advised one of our first-years to start a journal to jot down these gems that happen on an almost daily basis. One of mine: the time I back-handed a first grader when I was demonstrating how large something was. The topper? As I was apologizing all over myself, the kid told me not to worry about, that he had probably done something to deserve it!

  9. Emily

    I teach high school and a couple weeks ago after my class of seniors, I found a small pile of poop on the floor of my classroom. I was praying it was somehow from the chickens we keep outside. Thanks for keeping us laughing!

  10. Anonymous

    I cry-laughed at the vomit scenario. Almost the exact same thing happened this year, only it was in the hallway a mere 47 seconds before the bell rang. I was the only adult nearby at first (I'm the counselor and like to wander the halls before passing period) and watched as one very eager 6th grader unknowingly stepped in it and glided down the hallway as if she was ice skating right through and then past it. I don't think I could stand up anymore, I was laughing so hard…and simultaneously putting mental control over my gag reflexes. We need to give our custodians more credit than they get!
    Happy teaching!

  11. Anonymous

    I have a roach issue at my school. I also happen to have a Keurig. I can't stop thinking about a dead roach in my coffee. I am halfway tempted to drive to school at 9:30 p.m. to tear the machine apart and clean it until it's better than new.

  12. Cathy Roberts

    After reading #7, I have to wonder if you ever taught at my high school. We had termites flying out of the old wooden walls all over our room! Thanks for your blog…the last few weeks have been difficult at school, and you have managed to cheer me a little.

  13. Anonymous

    Oh, man. It was a rough day. Kids were squirrelly and fighting and breaking down all over the place. This makes me smile. But also feel a little bit like I'm still in my first year of teaching due to being in 3 different teaching positions in my 4 years of teaching. Bless you, Teach!

  14. Anonymous

    Bad day! The time my third graders went outside for a safety program….and as we were walking back into the building, I was at the head of the line, and I turned to make a final teaching point. So, I was walking backward and I tripped over a curb, brought my arm down fast, and smashed my wrist full force into this curb. I landed on my bottom and began to get up…my left wrist was dislocated…and I knew it! I was speechless!

  15. Anonymous

    My grade of primary students have been swimming all week. We are one tired bunch. Emphasis on the WE. I just laughed uncontrollably at these posts. Thanks everyone for sharing.

  16. Katie

    When I got marker all over my hand during an art project and everyone kept asking "Why is your hand red?…..Why did you do THAT?" and I kept responding, "BECAUSE IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE WASHABLE!" Then I went home and tried to clean it off with acetone, which didn't work, so I washed my hands carefully to remove the poison. Later, when I was taking out my contacts, I realized I didn't wash them carefully enough, so I spent 20 minutes in the shower trying to save my vision, wondering how I would teach class blind, because there was NO WAY I was prepared for a substitute. My eyes were fine, but I was so stirred up I couldn't sleep, and spent the next day trying to maintain the operating level of a glitchy robot.

  17. Anonymous

    The time I was having a parent teacher conference with a serious dad, and a gnat kept flitting around my head. Well, until it flew in my mouth while I was talking and I swallowed it! The rest of the conference was very awkward to say the least!

  18. Anonymous

    During my first year of teaching when a second grader walked up to my desk to say he didn't feel well. Then threw up all over my desk! Yep, guess he wasn't feeling well! LOL

  19. Anonymous

    The time I had mirrored my iPad (which is linked to my email and iMessage) to my classroom Apple TV forgot to take down the mirroring function after the lesson. Fifteen minutes later my brother, in an out-of-the-ordinary hot-tempered bad mood, angrily texts my phone… which pings to my still mirrored iPad…which then relays the text on my 60-inch t.v. "F*** this F***ing bull**** political regime." Finally to top it all off I had a member of FTA in the room to observe. That was a long talk with my principal… :S

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