I was recently perusing some of the posts by my fellow WordPress bloggers when I came upon this little gem by Tales from the Back of the Classroom. I felt like I was reading something I might have written myself. I have always prided myself on my ability to provide a bit of snark to whatever situation I find myself in. It’s usually good-natured, but truthfully, I am a self-described dark and twisty gal, so I do go to the dark side sometimes. Especially with friends. I mean, seriously, I’m freakin’ hilarious.
But not with students.
As a secondary educator for my entire career, I do not understand the concept of not using humor in your classroom. Honestly, it’s probably the key to most of my relationships with students. I can laugh at myself, I can laugh at some of the lessons we must teach, and I can laugh with them about the funny stories they tell me. If I didn’t find humor in teaching teenagers, I probably wouldn’t be in my 20th year of teaching. Plus, kids are FUNNY!
But I’m not laughing AT THEM.
Sarcasm is dark, twisty, hilarious, sometimes completely accurate, and usually pretty honest. I find that being honest with my students earns me more respect than anything. When I don’t know something, I tell them I don’t know, but I will find out. When I’m wrong, I admit that I’m wrong, sincerely apologize, and move on. When they are wrong and apologize, I graciously accept and move on.
However, when the moment calls for snark or dark, I go there. My students know from about the first 10 minutes of their first class with me that I’m sarcastic. It’s in my blood, and I’m a pretty open book, so they get it immediately. Because of this, by about the 3rd week of school, our classes run fairly smoothly with only the occasional hiccup. There comes a point when I don’t even have to say anything anymore. When a kid asks me a question that I just answered three times in the instructions, wrote on the board, and is answered in the directions on their assignment, my kids groan and tell that kid for me. I can accomplish most of my classroom management with a look. When we get a new student, and they push a boundary, the students give them the lowdown on me very quickly, and things self-correct.
As a wise and noble colleague said today, “A friend in a former district ‘described the concept of sarcasm as a “higher order thinking skill'”.
Basically all of this is to say that you can have my sarcasm at the same time you can have my Oxford comma- when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.