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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Twenty Things I Never Thought I'd Say in an Elementary Classroom

In honor of Edutopia's 20th anniversary, we're producing a series of Top 20 lists, from the practical to the sublime.



Twenty Things I Never Thought I'd Say in an Elementary Classroom


Teachers need to acclimate themselves to a whole new level of dialogue when teaching elementary students. It feels awkward, strange, and, to say the least, dreamy. However, remembering what it's like to honestly "be a kid" will help tremendously when speaking with children (notice I used "with" and not "to").

Yes, I've had full-blown conversations about the world of Snibbyland, have been asked to play center on a junior basketball team, and chomped my tongue, even drew blood, to avoid bursting into laughter while discussing the science of farting. Funny, but not -- not to the students. Kids speak the truth and value every word of it. If you want to teach kids, you need to respect the dialogue that occurs in the classroom. Enjoy the list. I can't wait to read your additions!

#1 If you don't make it to the nurse, puke in your hands.

#2 If you really need to fart again, please go in the hallway.

#3 Do you know what the word "gay" really means?

#4 Whose cell phone is ringing?

#5 You gotta' go number 1 or number 2?

#6 Yes, Ozzy Osbourne is the Prince of Darkness.

#7 Good use of a footnote.

#8 If you use the word fart in your story too many times, the story begins to not be funny.

#9 STOP HIDING!

#10 If you keep playing with the velcro on your shoes, you will no longer have shoes.

#11 Get that paperclip out of the socket.

#12 Now squeeze the blue balls. (Science experiment with liquids and solids.)

#13 Get dressed and go to Art!

#14 Yes, the Darth Vader helmet fits on my head.

#15 Please put on your lip gloss after school.

#16 Buuuuuuut...and it's a big one.

#17 What if the Nibs take over Snibbyland? What happens then?

#18 You want me to be a mentor to your secret Samurai Power Rangers Team? Let me think about it.

#19 Sorry, I can't play center on your basketball team.

#20 What's that puddle in the back of the room?

Comments (19)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

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Brittany McClurg's picture
Brittany McClurg
First grade teacher, Wisconsin

Here are a few:

"I'm sorry that your brain hurts, but that means you're learning!"
"Was that a cold prickly or a warm fuzzy?"

musicmaker's picture
musicmaker
Elementary Music Teacher College Station, TX

"Is it a real emergency? Like you're going to pee pee on the floor right now if you don't go?"

Jill's picture

After being repeatedly interrupted during guided reading group (and the kids know better):

"If you're not throwing up or bleeding, don't come over here!"

Jamie Williams's picture

Voices off unless you are bleeding or on fire.
Everybody farts it's a part of life let's please finish this story.

Kenton Larsen's picture
Kenton Larsen
Creative Communications instructor in Winnipeg, Canada

These are 20 things I've said at the college level.

Corah's picture

"You're not Helen Keller, you have no excuse to not be listening to me!"

"You've already gone to the bathroom 6 times today, maybe I need to call your mom so she can take you to the doctor. I hear they give biiiiiiig shots for urinary tract infections. Still have to go?"

Janet Barnstable's picture
Janet Barnstable
Global Virtual Classroom Program Manager

While teaching in a private school, where we did teach the darlings that God was always watching.... It was a few days before Christmas, 2nd graders needing to walk 'quietly' down the stair so as not to disturb other classes. Of course they couldn't, so I stood at the bottom of the steps, looked up and commented: "I sure hope Santa wasn't listening!"

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