I have several goals for myself as a teacher. I want to prepare my students academically, emotionally, and socially for the rest of their lives. I want to provide them with a safe environment both physically and emotionally while they’re here. I want them to leave my classroom simply as a better person than when they walked in. However, one of the things for which I strive, as I think we all do, is to simply be someone that they remember.
There are several schools of thought on this. First, there’s the cliche that “Students won’t remember everything you taught them but they will always remember how you made them feel.” So for this, I do try to always provide a welcoming environment in which the students feel safe and accepted. However, I have found that one of the things that the students remember most about me is the quirky things that I say. My first year, when I was coaching the basketball team, to get them to stop talking so we could coach, I would yell “Lock it up and take a knee!” Just last year, I saw one of my old basketball players and he quite literally asked me if I still told kids to lock it up. I’m proud to say I do. However, I just say and do a lot of quirky things to try to keep the classroom fun and entertaining and keep the students engaged. I think overall, if ten years from now, students look back and think, “Man, Mr. Steidl was probably a little bit legitimately insane!” I’ll be ok with that. So, without further ado, here are some of the weird things I say.
When a student tells me that they don’t want to do something I usually reply with, “Well I don’t want donuts to make me fat. But I eat plenty of them and, well….”
When a student asks a question that I really just don’t want or need to take the time to answer I say, “Oh yeah, that is a nunya.” or “Oh yeah that belongs to nunya” or “Oh she was talking to nunya.” Then when they say “Who’s nunya?” or “What’s a nunya?” I say “Nunya business!!! BAHAHAHA.” and walk away. I also do the same thing with the word minejone. As in “Minejone business!!!!”
Sometimes I’ll pronounce words wrong on purpose. Like I’ll say soicle instead of circle. For example, “Soicle all the fractions that are equivalent to 1/2.” Kids look at me weird and I say, “I can’t say the word circle so I have to say soicle instead.” They usually yell, “But you just said “Circle!!”” And I’ll act like I’m hurt and say, “Now you guys are just teasing me. I literally cannot physically pronounce the word, “circle,” so I have to say, “soicle.”
When kids say “OH MY GOD!!!” like complaining that I’m telling them to go back to their seats or something, I say “No, I’m Mr. Steidl, not God, but I think He’d agree with me on this. Go back to your seat.”
When kids disagree with something like not being able to just get up and go to the bathroom whenever they want, I’ll say, “Too bad, so sad, glad your mad. That’s rhyming. And that lesson is free of charge. You’re welcome. Now sit down.”
I am proud to say that I have taught an entire 30 minute lecture in an Irish accent.
When kids hug each other in the hall I’ll say, “Stop! Nope! Nope! Nope! This is a hug free zone. That is much different than a free hug zone! No hugs allowed.”
Many times when I’m saying a students name I’ll place the wrong emphasis on the wrong syllable. For example, I’ll pronounce “Harmony” as har-mone-ee. Just to change it up and get the kid’s attention.
Sometimes I’ll sing Disney songs in the hallway to students if it applies. For example, fifth grade lost their recess for three weeks and had to sit doing writing assignments. Their first day back on the playground, I started singing, “And for the first time in forever.” Or if a kid is taking a long time at the drinking fountain…”I’ve been out here staring at the water…” When we’re learning about shapes in first grade “It’s the circle of life”…when I hear two kids are dating “It’s beauty and the beast.” etc.
A lot of times I’ll change my voice inflection dramatically in the middle of a sentence along with my rate of speech. So I’ll go from whispering to half-yelling and talking in slow-motion to talking really really quickly.
I’ll speak Spanish to my only English speaking kids just to confuse them and get them to look at me.
Sometimes when a kid says, “Excuse me!” I’ll reply, “That’s ok, I didn’t smell it.”
So as I read over this list, I realize that I must seem like a really crazy person to my students. Strangely, I’ve come to be at peace with that. I think that it’s probably best that my students think I’m little bit crazy in the head. It’s good for them to think that…or maybe that’s just me being crazy again.