I was teaching a class last week in which we revised superlatives. I hadn’t intended to do this, but it came up in conversation and I had to think of some way to practise ‘The best/worst ever…’ We ended up telling each other stories about what had happened to us in our careers and I remembered some of these pearls from my 20 years of teaching. (My student is psychoanalyst, so she had far better stories than me, but I am not sure I am allowed to share them here.)
The best ever excuse for cancelling a class:
‘Sorry teacher, I can’t come to class today because I have to join the army.’ My student was turning 18 and had to go to the local barracks to present himself for some exam or something. He came to the following class because the army didn’t want him.
The best ever reason for calling an ambuance during a class:
A teacher was trying to teach ‘over’ and decided it would be a good idea to jump over a table. He didn’t jump high enough, caught his foot on the edge of the table and did a faceplant into the floor. After gasps of astonishment the students saw the blood pumping from his forehead and got the DoS to call for an ambulance.
The best ever reason for not doing homework:
‘My mom said this homework was rubbish so I didn’t have to do it.’ The homework was to find 5 interesting things about the Queen as preparation for a listening activity. I honestly didn’t know what to say to the student, but I did feel very sorry for him.
The best ever excuse for being (extremely) late:
‘I saw a bus hit a motorbike and stayed to watch while the ambulance I came. I think the motorcylist died.’ The student arrived with about 10 minutes remaining in the class and so the rest of the class was taken up by his story.
The best excuse for missing a whole term:
‘I got the days wrong and I turned up on Monday and Wednesday instead of Tuesday and Thursday.’ Apparently, this student had been coming to a different, and much lower level, class for the whole term. It was only when she was told she couldn’t go to the next level that we discovered the problem.
The best excuse for being rude in class:
I had a student whose grandmother had gone to the UK and brought back a t-shirt of a punk with two fingers (meaning ‘Fuck off’) in the air and saying ‘Oi!’ In Brazil, ‘Oi’ is the equivelent of ‘Hi’ and so the grandmother thought it was a very nice t-shirt made for Brazilian tourists to the UK. My student kept putting his two fingers up at me when he entered the class and saying ‘Hi’ until I asked him why he was telling me to fuck off. The rest of the class ended up being about cultural misunderstandings and the differences in body language.
The best reason for a student storming out of a class:
There used to be a coursebook written by the BBC which had a class about talking to the dead through a medium to practise the 2nd conditional. After about 20 minutes one of my students stood up, shouted that we shouldn’t be studying this because Brazil is supposed to be a Catholic country but it is disgraceful how we are moving away from Christianity and have things like African religions, atheists and mediums and then stormed out of the class. She came back a week later and behaved as if nothing had happened.
The best excuse for a teacher falling asleep in class:
I was tired. It was hot. There was no air conditioning. It was a very small room. The student was a very boring 14 year old boy. We had a two hour class. I put my head against the wall and my eyes…just sort of…closed. He asked me if I was ok, and I woke up and started rubbing my eyes. I told him I had an eye infection and we’d better have a break so I could go and wash them out. I think I got away with it.
One of the problems with being a freelance teacher is that I don’t have a teachers’ room to go to share and hear stories like this anymore. If you have any ‘Best Ever…’ stories from your careers, I’d love to hear them below in the comments.