The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Being the Mean Teacher

For the past four years, I have almost always introduced myself to students as the meanest teacher they will ever have.

None of them have believed me yet.

But it is true! Really! Not because I am cruel (note that I said “mean,” not “cruel”), nor because I am unkind, but because I am going to make the students do things they’ve never done before. I started this year the usual way, and I told everyone in my class that I was going to make them think harder than they’ve ever had to think before, and that is why I would be their meanest teacher. I also told them that I would never tell them how to spell a word, nor would I ever just give them an answer.

Some of my students have declared my claim to be true during the past couple of days, though. I am pushing them hard to keep working until the end of the week, and I especially want them to keep working on our alphabet book project. I would love for the book to be done by the end of the week, but some of them are dragging their heels. Others have gone to work with a gusto that I wish they would apply to everything they do.

One student today wanted help with his letter page, so I directed him to some information in one of our social studies textbooks. He asked me to just tell him the answer, and I replied, quite simply, “No.” His response: “Oh, come on, you’re so mean!” He is doing “M is for Maps” and he wanted me to make a copy of a map for him. I showed him the maps in the book and, since he loves to draw anyway, told him to get working.

Another student wanted me to give her the answer to a question about the father of Vasco da Gama and I gave her another of my standard replies: “Look it up!” She, too, said I was mean, and I smiled and said, “Yep, you’re right; I am! If you recall, I told you that at the beginning of the year. Now go look it up!”

Both students did indeed look up the information and didn’t ask me to do their work for them again. Some day, if they ever reflect on this, I’m sure they’ll realise that I have not been nearly as mean as they think I have been, and they will be grateful that I got them started on the path of finding out on their own, which is, to my way of thinking, what my job is really all about, anyway. I wasn’t hired to teach these boys and girls how to multiply, divide, and write. I was hired to teach them how to think. It is a tough job, but one that I love dearly!


One response

  1. Ryan

    I think if you tell them right off the bat that you’re a mean teacher, your students won’t believe you. Try letting your actions speak for themselves. That’ll teach em.

    Awesome blog, by the way. Very entertaining. I’m gonna subscribe.

    December 13, 2011 at 7:12 pm

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