Elementary kids in Brooklyn say the dangedest things

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday messages

Today was the last day before break and we had a party. Exchanged cards and gifts, ate junk food, the whole deal. There's a lot to report on from today, so I'll try to get it all down before I forget.

  • David signed two of his Christmas cards pretty hilariously bizarrely. To Amaris:
Dear Amaris, I sat in your chair.
  • To Andrew:
Dear Andrew, I hope you do better in math.

I don't know why they got singled out.

  • During the party, Nayelyn said, "Mr. Rice, turn on some music so we can get drunk!" She's a sweetheart and very smart, but not that grounded in reality sometimes. . .I think she might actually think it's music that makes people drunk.

  • Savoir's weird Mormon fetish came to light again near the end of the day. We got a call that his dad was there to pick him up. "I hope he's not down there with the Mormons. If those Mormons embarrass me I'm going to kick his butt!"
All in all it was a great day. The kids were gracious and sweet, never complaining about not getting what they wanted. In fact, some gave kids that they felt didn't get as much some of their own stuff. I got very nice presents and even sweeter home-made cards. Really wonderful day. Sadly, it's David's last day, as his family moves to Long Island over the break. We toasted him during the party. Really going to miss that kid.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Checked twice

So Paola was talking about how awful I am again. I had just received a Christmas present from a parent with Santa waving on it. "You're on the naughty list, Mr. Rice," she says. "See? Santa has his hand up. He's going to give you pa-pow."

Overheard in the hallway

After I picked the kids up from lunch, we were going back upstairs. Another class was rowdily walking ahead of us. To no one in particular, Jesus says, "We need some new chicks in this school."

Monday, December 21, 2009


So when Paola asked to use the restroom, I did my traditional, "Well who's your favorite teacher?" routine.

"You," she sighed.

"Why?" I again asked. Usually the acceptable answers are "Because you're awesome/handsome/cool/a ladies man (a weird recent addition from Jaela)."

However, Paola decides to take another tack. "Because . . .faith made it that way."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Bet

So I was talking with Paola about how some people can't seem to stop doing certain things. She mentioned CBR. Comic Book Resources is a website I frequent, especially during lunch when some of the kids come up to hang out. She bets me I can't stay away. So we start talking and we make an official bet.

For three weeks I cannot visit CBR or its blog counterpart, Comics Should Be Good. if I fail I have to cook or buy a meal for Paola and her friends Maylene and Jaela. But if I go three weeks without (even at home during the vacation) they have to do everything I say without question for two weeks, up to and including cooking for me while they're at home and bringing it in the next day.

So we'll see. I honestly think I'll lose.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Brain damage

So a running joke I have is when kids ask to go to the restroom or drink some water, I ask first who their favorite teacher is. They begrudgingly say it's me and I let them go. So today, Damaris, who's always taken great pleasure in messing with me, asks for something and I ask her who her favorite teacher is. She names my teaching partner, so I put her in a fake headlock and she jerks around like I'm doing serious damage. I let her go and she crosses her eyes and stumbles around. "Mr. Rice is my favorite teacher," she blurts, almost drunkenly. "I think you damaged my mind!"

Monday, November 30, 2009

Oh, dear

At the meeting area for reading today, Maylene asked if she could be my "scribe" (what we call the person who writes on the board for me . . .she's good at it and has better handwriting than me). I said, "Sorry, I don't need one today."

Before I could proceed with the lesson, Paola turned to Maylene and said, somewhat sympathetically, "Ohhh . . .he rejected you."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

He has excellent taste, by the way

So we were having a pizza party in celebration of 100 books read so far this year. A colleague came by, and we offered her a slice. She didn't have time but we said we'd send a kid with one for her. Jeff says, "I'll do it!" loudly and then, to himself "cause she's HOT."

"What was that?" I asked.

"Uhhhh . . .I said . . .it was really cold in here . . ."

"I heard what you said, Jeff." Then I let him take it to her.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sneak Attack (+1d6)

So Savior walks up to me in the midst of writer's workshop. Eyes half-closed, he says in a thick vague accent. "Yoo have underrestimated me . . .and the element . . .of SUPRISE!" at which point he launches a green squishy squid toy into my stomach.

What the hell?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Movie Time

Yesterday during dismissal, I heard a pretty great conversation. Two of my boys, Christopher and David, were talking about a movie, Judd Apatow's Funny People.

"It was funny," Chris says.

"Well, yeah, it's CAWED 'Funny People,' wright?" David replies. He thinks for a minute. "Is theiw blood owr couwrsing?"

"There's no blood, but there's cursing. And . . .some other bad stuff." At this point it's just the three of us outside waiting for parents to pick them up. Chris is obviously more aware of me being near them but I'm trying not to seem like I'm listening. After all, this is a totally normal conversation for 5th grade boys, just not one most would have in front of a teacher.

"Sex?" David asks.

Out of the corner of my eye I see Chris glance at me nervously. He says nothing.

"Sex?" David repeats. "You know, naked people?"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Classic Julio

Last year I had a kid named Julio. Smart, witty . . .all around great. And a total ladies' man. He was very aware of girls and wrote about his loves and crushes often. Reminded me of me at his age . . .except his were requited loves, heh. Anyway, one day a rather attractive female colleague stopped in to chat with me while they were doing independent work. We talk for a while, laugh, and she leaves. Julio's staring me down as I walk back in. He gives me a bit grin and two thumbs up.

From then on he always made a point to notice when I talked to pretty girls. I miss him.

Monday, November 2, 2009

They know me all too well

Some days I bring some kids up to eat lunch with me . . .it's good to get to know them as people. We talk like adults, just asking about each other's weekends and such. They asked about my lunch, which was clearly not from a place near here.

"Well, it's a funny story," I said. "I was walking down the street--"

Kevin interrupted, "And you got eaten by a shark."

" . . .no. But I had had a big brunch and--"

Amaris' turn. "If this has something to do with a bathroom, I don't want to hear about it."

Of course it did . . .

New vocabulary

I can't put this down to just one instance, but my kids have been using a new word. I feel old, cause I don't know if it's a reference to a video game or music or what, but the word is "brawlic." It is used to describe a big, tough, muscular dude (or girl I guess). I'm not sure how I feel about it . . .on the one hand, that's pretty specific and descriptive and I like making up words. On the other . . .I dunno, I'm just getting old.

A little early for that

My partner was reading the kids a book about kids in the old west, focusing on a chapter on what they did on their off hours. We were filling out a graphic organizer with facts from the book like "chilling out in the shade" and "telling stories." Savior raises his hand.

"Wait, wait, wait . . .and ALSO . . .they . . .drank egg nog!"

"Uhhh . . .that wasn't in the book," my partner says.

"I'm just assuming."


Friday, October 30, 2009

Special Bonus Weekend Update

As I was relaxing, and getting ready for Halloween weekend I went to check my email. There on my "g-chat" list was a student who found my email address recently. Her "status"? . . ."anime rockz."

I create nerds.

Flatulence Friday: Ground Zero

One day a couple years ago, some of my students all started mumbling and giggling during reading. I went over to reprimand them. "What's the problem?" I started.

"SOMEBODY LET A STINK BOMB!" one kid literally screamed.

"IT SMELLS LIKE CHEESE AND EGGS!" another confirmed.

Trying to quash this outburst, I snapped, "It couldn't possibly be that--" and that's when I got within range of the fart. "OH GOD!" I blurted involuntarily. "Oh, man, you're right, it does . . .what do you kids EAT in the morning?"

Sorry about this week

I didn't update this week, and I deeply apologize. One day my partner was absent, the next I was at a conference in the city . . .weird stuff happens when you teach. But I just got a good one!

We're sitting around for independent reading, and Jaela, a spunky little cutie, says, "Mr. Rice, do you know what I'm reading?"


"YOUR MIND." And then she gives me a look with one eye.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Flatulence Friday: The Final Countdown

Earlier this week the class was involved in some group work, which involved some talking to each other. When this happens and I need their attention, I count backward from five to give them ample time to refocus. Well, this time I finished counting as everyone was getting quiet, but right after saying "One, zero," Mark stood up and let one rip loudly.

I couldn't help but laugh.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My bad

So I was teaching a math lesson today on geometry. Never my greatest subject . . .and I got totally flustered with this new way of doing it. I realized I'd made a mistake and corrected myself.

Nasir blurted out, "Good job confusing little kids!"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I was removing my sweater because the class got too hot. Unfortunately, my button-down came up with it briefly, causing Jeff (among others) much distress.

"I saw nipples!"

"Why were you looking?" I asked.

"HE WAS LOOKING FOR MILK!" Nasir screamed across the room.


Oh, it's on.

On Friday, Jeffrey wrote us a note in Mets' colors saying "Mets Suck." I responded with a note saying "The Yankees are overpaid crybaby juicers and an embarrassment to baseball."

Jeffrey's responce came today:

Dear: Weezer you are a stinking band And it suck you bunch of ugly juicers and wack songs And your things smell like hippo but

Dude, you don't tell a nerd that Weezer sucks.

Ja Wohl!

During social studies, we were looking at a pie graph detailing the national background of New Yorkers in 1990. One question was "What continent were most New Yorkers from," the answer being Europe. A few seconds later, Savior sort of uttered to himself, "Hitler."

I paused and considered whether I should ask, and decided to. "Wait, why did you just say that?"

"I was just thinking of him. I was thinking of, you know, blonde hair, blue eyes."

"Uh, OK. You know, what's weird, he didn't have either one of those things."


Then we just went on with the lesson

Uh oh . . .

So my home comupter is kaput for the time being. This means I can basically only check email or update this while on break at school. So I get to work extra early now to prepare and relax and such as. Well one of my kids apparently saw my email address on a letter sent home to the parents. Because I just got this email:


They've found me . . .

Monday, October 19, 2009


Damaris just came up to me and hugged me. She's not usually affectionate . . .in fact takes great glee in giving me hell whenever possible. She then says, "You know what scares me?"


"How handsome you are."

Shocked, I thanked her. "That's so sweet!"

"Now can we have a party?"

Friday, October 16, 2009

Nerd Wars

I was just handed a note from Christopher. On it he traced the Star Wars logo. Under that he wrote "may the fouce [sic] be with you Mr. Rice hope your [sic] not a trekkie or you will be sorry."

Trekkie was also apparently originally spelled "terky."

As if he knew . . .

As if he knew what today was, as I walked by him, Jeffrey patted his stomach and said, "Watch out, Mr. Rice. A big one's coming."

"What have you been eating?"

"It's going to be big. It's building. Probably later, during writing."

He's on a roll today

While comparing and contrasting stage coaches and prarie schooners, Savior said "A prarie schooner was like a VCR."

"Wait, how?"

"It's bigger, you can fit your stuff in it."


One kid helps us out, "Do you mean an RV?"

"Oh, yeah, that's it."

First Flatulence Friday

So, I don't know if you've thought about it, but when you teach children, you're exposed to a lot more farts and fart talk than the average person. And the hard part is, even when it's hilarious, you're not supposed to laugh. So I'm hoping this will be a recurring feature here on the blog on certain Fridays.

So for the first one I'm gonna turn the years back to a very special class I once taught. This was back when my school had "gifted" classes in each grade. I taught a gifted second grade class, perhaps the best of my career. I'm still close to many of the kids and parents from that year.

Anyway, enter Liz. Liz was small, cute as a button, super-smart, and one of the shiest girls I've ever encountered. One day I called the class to the carpet. When I called her team, she stood up, bent over to push in her chair and let a really loud one rip. I mean, for her size, it was like an atom bomb. You know how Spider-man has the "proportionate strength of a spider"? It was like that. First impulse was to crack up, but I stopped because I was worried. This girl, I really liked her, but she was already shy and reluctant to talk or joke around. I was sincerely worried this would be the moment that would ruin her social life in this school for the rest of time, that she would look back on it forever in shame. The next second seemed to last an eternity.

She then put her hands to her face in mock shock and exclaimed "Ooopsie!" and went on her way.

That was the day I realized this girl was awesome.

Joseph Smith Follow-up

Remember Savior's "Book of Mormon" moment? Today, out of nowhere, while my partner was introducing the shared reading for the day, he blurted out "I'm a Mormon! No I'm not."

EDIT: And of course the shared reading example book is about people traveling west in the 1800s, and one reason given is "Mormons escaping religious persecution." So every time Savior blurts out "MORMONS."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tenor of the conversation

Savior was looking through a "ten best" book with lots of lists of, well, the ten best of anything. There's a picture of the Three Tenors, and he raises his hand to get me over. "Mr. Rice, are these the three Figaros? You know," then, singing, "Feeegaro feeegaro feeeeegaro!"

More Classic David

In NYC, the kids are put through these stupid standardized tests that basically choose their future for them . . .even though the only thing they learn through them is how to take a damn test. But during the ELA test, there are three sections. A mutliple choice day, a listening day, and an essay day. The end of the day of the multiple choice, I was reminding them about the next day.

"And tomorrow is the listening section, where you will hear the golden, mellifluent tones of my golden voice pouring in your honey," I said and continued.

David raised his hand. I called on him, assuming he had a pressing question. "Mithtew Writhe, your catchphrases awe getting WEIWDER and WEIWDER!"

I stopped, taken aback. "I guess, so, Dave. That was pretty weird." I continued and he raised his hand again after a few moments.

"But jutht tho you know, it wath a pretty GOOD one!"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


In writing, I always stress to take their time and really think thing's through. "A good writer's never done, they've only just begun," I said in fourth grade.

Mark, "I'm done."

Frustratedly, I reply, "Mark, I've told you that a hundred times! No, you're not done!"

Mark: "Oh. I'm finished."


The "life skills" teacher is teaching a lesson about smoking. One kid was reading something and having trouble with "interfere." Jeffrey corrected him with "into reefer."

The adults just tried to look away and not laugh.

I'm gross and weird

Sometimes I like to say really bizarre things to friends' classes and just see what they do. My friend Ms. V just reminded me of a time I walked up to a really good, very shy girl in her class who hardly ever spoke. I'm friends with her family and get to have fun with her. But one day after my usual, "Why are you so mean to everyone?" speech to the quiet one, I added, "You make me want to take a dump on your SOUL!" and then quickly walked away.

Yeneris waited a perfect beat, and said, "THAT was awkward . . ."

Wayback Diana

Diana was a cutie in second grade I didn't even teach. But she was in a friend's gifted class, and I liked messing with them. Any time I saw this amazing class, I'd just give 'em hell about being the worst people I've ever known. (It's what I do to good kids with senses of humor.) Diana would get mad and shake her fist at me, snub me in the halls, etc.

Until one day she came up and hugged me and of course I melted. Later she said, "Mr. Rice, you taught me an important lesson. Just because you hate someone at first, it doesn't mean you won't really like them later."

Classic David

I'll also be posting things some kids have said in the past, either in this class or in other classes I've taught. Another kid I assume will be a recurring character here is David. He's very bright and very funny.

One day last year I came to school super depressed. I forget why, probably girl-related. But I was definitely out of sorts as I calmly told the kids to take their work out and get ready for the day. David's hand shot up.

"Mithter Writhe . . .do you have low thelf-ethteem?"

It broke me out of my spell. "Uh, do you mean always or just today?"

"Jutht today."

"Yeah, Dave, I guess I do."

"OK," he said, and continued with his work.

First day two-fer

The final impetus of me doing this were the following two statements/exchanges with one of my, we'll say more "prolific" students. This kid could have his own blog, he's always saying something amazing. I'll get into it more later, but I thought I'd start off with the first two. And because these are kids I'm working with, I won't be giving any last names or anything like that. But here is this blog's introduction to Savior. Yes, his name is Savior.

"Mr. Rice, have you read the Book of Mormon?"

"Uh, no. Have you?"

"Readin' it!" Then he walked away.

A bit later he came back up to me and said, "My birthday's soon. I want you to get me a little pamphlet of Hamlet, heh heh heh!"

I taught this class last year in fourth grade as well, and during poetry we studied, among other things, the "to be or not to be" speech. Savior took to it well (but ultimately preferred "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock").

Hello there.

So I teach elementary school in Brooklyn. I love it. But this blog isn't about me. I've thought about making it lots of times, but finally had the chance today, during an extra prep time. Almost every day, at least one of them says something bizarre/hilarious/interesting/sweet/etc. Usually bizarre and hilarious. So I'm going to try to keep these for posterity. Hopefully you'll enjoy them.