Elementary kids in Brooklyn say the dangedest things

Thursday, December 16, 2010

And in conclusion

Roland, today, showed me the conclusion for his book about MLK, Jr.

"But sadly Martin was shot. Well I hope you learned everything about Martin because I'm out of paper. Go outside and play, you need the fresh air. Trust me."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Race humor?

The class is working on writing non-fiction books with topics of their own choosing. Roland chose to write about Martin Luther King, Jr. Today they were writing introductions to the books. Most went pretty smoothly, if a bit bland.

That was not enough for Roland. "In this book you will learn facts about Martin Luther King, Jr. Where he lived, where he was born, what he did. All the facts are there in black and white. And Chinese and Mexican! Sorry, a little Martin Luther King humor!"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Got to hand it to him

Isaiah asked if I ever dream about him. "Only in my nightmares," I replied. He paused for a moment.

"While I was in your dreams, I saw your ex-girlfriend. She's not that hot."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Those Poor Dutchmen

We're discussing New Netherlands and I was explaining that the Dutch are from there. Moussa got concerned. "Mr. Rice, when I heard about the countries in Europe, they all sound fancy. Like, France . . .Paris . . .it's fancy. 'Netherlands' doesn't sound fancy, though."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quick Hits

Two things I heard kids say today in my class.

"My umbrella smells like ham." --Doug

"Mathew, stop eating your clothes!" --Roland

Friday, November 19, 2010

Good Excuse

So my class has a minor obsession with my softball team. Recently, they've been asking if they can come see a game. They can't, because the season is over. "Well how about in May?" they asked.

"Well, the games are at night."

"You could make a special trip!"

"But I can't take you guys out at night."

"Have a game during the day!"

"Well, everyone has jobs they can't leave."

That stumped them for a while. Then Glenis thought of the obvious solution. "Pretend someone on the team died, so everyone can take a day off."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Marital Strife

Sheena raises her hand. I call on her. "Mr. Rice, rembember how Moussa broke my tape measure?"

"Yes," I say, seeing where this is going.

"Well, he still didn't give me a dollar."

I laughed.

"What?" Moussa butts in.

"That dollar you owe me!"

"You've got to give me some time!" Moussa protests, rather Han-Solo-ish if you ask me.

"It's been a month!" Sheena says in exasperation

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Moo hoo ha ha ha ha ha

Ruby came up to me and shook my hand. "Good news, Mr. Rice. You're the bad guy and Ms. Vaughan is your Assistant Dracula."

Best job title ever.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

For Old Time's Sake

I walked by the class where my former students are yesterday. They called me to come in and say hi . . .they had a sub that wasn't really containing them too well. After a short chat, Maylene says, "Mr. Rice, shush us!"

I paused for a moment and said, "Like, for old time's sake?"

"Yeah!" a bunch of them said.

So I did, but I couldn't keep a straight face. Miss those guys.

Remember Johanny?

Well she remembers me. She came to visit and next thing I know this was on my board.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Veritable Goldmine

While walking in line I stopped to pretend to choke Douglas. I like to keep them on their toes.

"That's why I have a hammer at home!" he says. "For drastic measures!" That was funny enough, but he went on. "If anyone attacks me, I'll just whack them off!"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

She learns quickly

At the end of the last writing unit, Emily told me she'd write her next piece about me. So today they're gathering ideas for personal essays. I teased her about me not being in any of her ideas so far. She laughed and said, "Your Eggo."

"My ego?"

"Yes. Your ego!" She then laughed and started writing. When I came back around, one of her ideas was "Mr. Rice is annoying."


Apparently this is the morning for treats for Mr. Rice. Roland approached me early this morning with a song and dance about how his sister is wanting to go to prom later this year, but it's expensive. So he's helping her by selling Rice Krispy Treats. It seems quasi-legal at best, but I love Rice Krispy treats so I'll allow it.

And Emily comes in and gives me and my partner each an apple. Old school, yo!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


So on our way down from class today on our way to dismissal, I caught Douglas with his index finger and thumb deep inside his mouth, like some sort of mind-controlling beetle from Star Trek. I thought maybe something was stuck or he might be choking. "What's going on, Douglas?" I asked.

"I'm just trying to touch my uvula."

He needs a top hat

Fernando was performing his duties as a closet monitor this morning. He was also using the long handle of a plastic broom to do things. He then leaned on the handle and said, "I'm a fancy dude," does a little dance and tips his head, "And I think I'll do it again."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A New Ladies Man Appears

So the kids finished their math test early and asked if they could make signs for my softball team. Sounded fun to me, so I agreed. The girls wanted to make signs for the female players, and the boys for the boys.

Except for Moussa. He mentioned one of the female players. "So, Mr. Rice, tell me. Does she look . . .nice?" I said yes. "How old is she." I told him she was in her thirties. "THIRTIES? AND SHE CAN STILL PLAY?!?"

"Hey, I'm 32!"

"I thought you were fifty!"

Later he came back to me and asked, "So who's the best looking girl on your team?" I told him they were all beautiful. "Well, do you have any . . .younger?"

"How young?"

"How about nine?"

"Definitely not, Moussa."

"Hm. Fifteen?"

"Still too young for my team."

"OK, fifteen to twenty-five?" That I said we had.

I like the way he thinks.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Sweet Note

My allergies are acting up pretty terribly so I feel like crud today. But then I got a note from Amanda:

to: Mr. Rice
From Amanda!

Best teacher ever!
Feel Better
I love you like
brother [then crossed out]

Friday, September 24, 2010

I rhyme the rhymes well

Moussa asked me if I had a rockstar name. "No," I replied. "But I have a rap name. Sensei Smooth."

So he made this for me.


Ruby snuck up behind me while I was sitting and grabbed my face from behind. She then whispered in my ear, "I want your face. I'm going to rip your head off." She then proceded to return to her seat and finish her math work.

Beat the Heat

The other day I went to pick up my kids from recess. Christian 1 (I have two of them this year) was slow to arrive. When he finally did I realized he was wearing his Transformers lunch box/bag on his head. I didn't get a chance to ask him about it, but I heard him say to a friend "Too hot out here! Gotta cool off somehow!"

Monday, September 20, 2010

Put me in my place

This morning we were talking about our weekends . . .I like to start the day with normal human conversation, helps socialize the kids. One kid went bowling and after he told us about it I told him I'd been bowling that weekend, too, on a date. One girl raised her hand immediately.

"Yes, Glenis?"

"We don't care about your personal life, Mr. Rice."


Friday, September 17, 2010

Good question

Moussa was reading a book that featured both monkeys and gorillas. I could see the wheels turning. He raised his hand. "Mr. Rice, when monkeys grow up, do they become gorillas?"

"No, they're different animals," I replied.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Oh, My

At the end of the day, some of my girls were talking to my teaching partner. Ruby lets it be known that she wants to be "single the rest of [her] life." That would have been funny enough but Jaylin replied, "Oh, no, I want a man in my house! I don't want to die alone!"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


As we were going down to lunch, Fernando was holding the door for us. (He loves that.) "Mr. Rice," he asks, "do you think I could be the class door monitor?"

"Sure," I reply. We needed one anyway.

"Good, because I'm addicted to doors."

Begun, the Clone Wars Have

In a reprise of their routine yesterday, Ruby and Jaylin tricked me into standing between their desks to read Ruby's story and "caught" me again. As I was trying to free myself, Jaylin said, "I'll take one of his hairs!" and plucked it from my arm. Later, I caught the two examining it and putting it away for safe-keeping.

"A DNA sample!" Ruby said.

"They're going to make an exact replica of you, Mr. Rice," Fernando said.

I wish their writing was this expressive and inventive

Flurry of Activity

Wow, a lot of weirdness happened in a short period of time today. Let's see if I can remember it all.

During the writing lesson I was teaching how writers think about times they felt an emotion strongly as ways to think of stories to write. I gave an example of how happy I was when my softball team finally won their first game. Seeing as I wanted them to come up with two ideas per emotion, I mentioned being very happy dancing at a friend's wedding. After instruction was over and the kids were about to go back to their seats, Ruby raises her hand. "Mr. Rice, if we write all period quietly, will you show us some of your dance moves?"

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tug of War

Today as I was walking by during a math lesson Ruby grabbed my hand. "I'm not letting go," she informed me. "Ever. You'll have to go home with me too."

Then her neighbor, Jaylin, grabbed my other hand. We sat and did the math work together. It's a far cry from my fifth graders last year pretending not to see me. ADORABLE IS WHAT IT IS!

He's still got it.

So I was going to pick up my lunch and lo and behold I see my old class from the past two years in science. I drop in to say "Hello." Then I proceed to talk to the teacher how that class is a bunch of jerks, teasing them as per my custom.

Then Savior says, "And behold," and, geturing at me, "the Grand Jerk."

I gave him a high five for that one.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And the cycle begins anew . . .

The 2010-2011 school year has begun today. I have a new class and a new teaching partner. I've moved back down a grade, to 4th. I loved my kids last year, but 5th is an age group I'd sooner avoid. You may have noticed fewer posts as the year went on . . .I had to spend too much time maintaining order in the chaotic world of pre-pubescent awakening.

So my new class is younger and far more innocent (so far at least). In fact, they seem kind of immature. It's only the first day, of course, so things will improve. It's just quite a leap.

But never fear, even with only part of the class showing up (the New York Department of Education had the brilliant idea of starting school the day before a two-day holiday/four-day weekend), I've already run into some characters. Emily is an adorable go-getter, very bright and very willing to answer questions. She's been the first, so far, to get my jokes. Isaiah is going to be a funny one, I can tell.

And then there's Roland. Very smart, honestly, kind of a nerdy kid. For example, I was doing a read aloud from the book NERDS, about nerdy kids who are secretly special agents. In the prologue you meet the adult spy, a sort of American James Bond, who was recently sidelined do to "the accident." A cane is in his lap. I asked for ideas on what that was about and answers were mostly things like "Maybe he fell down the steps," or "He might have twisted his ankle." That wasn't good enough for good old Roland. His theory?

"Perhaps an enemy constructed some sort of device that crippled his leg."

I like him already.

Friday, April 30, 2010


Damaris decided to write a poem about me.

Mr. Rice
Mr. Rice is a evil man
of darkness a never ending
place of death
who can stop
this creature that
lies on this earth who
can stop him from lying
from his dates a opposite monster
of joy, playful and understanding
no one can stop his
mighty horns that
stand on top ofhis head
help from
this chaos

A poem for me

Thursday, April 29, 2010


So we use a whole-class behavior mod where we have a canister of "gems" and then a clear jar next to it. The class goal is to get 100 gems and they get them for times the entire class does the right thing. They had reached their goal but then lost over 20 due to poor performance yesterday (while I was out of the room doing testing). Today someone counted and there were way too many.

I explained to the class there were two options: someone confesses or all gems are gone and they start over.

Savior confessed, we thanked him, and we moved on. Someone said that was a good idea and Savior said, "You should thank me, I'm the one who sacrificed my freedom!" He later whispered to me, "I hope you know I didn't really do it. In fact, I saw who did." I didn't ask him to snitch.S

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

That's Weird

So I was in my room on prep, just relaxing. Jesus pops his head in and announces, "Mr. Rice, I have diarrhea." I waited for a question or follow up. After a few seconds he says, "That's weird."

I said, "Uh-huh."

Then he left.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Chow Time

Johanny has been at it again with the lunchtime board drawings. The recent theme has been her devouring me. I hope this cellphone pic does it justice.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

You got served

I walked into library where my kids were to hand Maylene some papers for a performance she's doing. Before I could say who they were for, Savior piped up "Serve him the papers! He's being served!"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I hate St. Patrick's Day.

I really do. I gave reward tickets to any kid who didn't wear green. So of course during lunch, Johanny makes this:

Sigh. I can't win.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Guilty Multi-Post

Haven't added to this in a while. We had a week off for mid-winter recess and a couple of snow days, and one of my funniest kids, David, moved away. But today made up for it because I've got a lot to add.

Maylene has become obsessed with the computer. Today she asked to be on it and said she'd be really nice to me if I let her. I was hesitant. She then offered to write me a paragraph about how great I am. This I had to see. Now you can, too.
Mr. Rice is so awesome he makes women vomit. Mr. Rice is a dork but he has good thoughts of women. Mr. Rice is handsome and he loves to eat children. Mr. Rice is nice and that's why his name is Mr. Rice the nice guy who likes children.
I can't deny the vomiting part.

A lot of my kids are getting into having email. And they figured out my email and write me every now and then. We were going to have a party at the end of the day as a reward for reaching a certain behavior goal. I find this email from Nasir.
I'm ready yo party this afternoon
hurry up with the food
one more

I have no idea why he types like a poem.

And, of course, to top it off, during the party Savior says, "You know what this party needs? Alize."

After I was done laughing, I, for perhaps the hundredth time this month, replied, "Inappropriate, Savior."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Shaving reactions

This weekend I finally shaved off a beard I've had a little over two years now. So the entire time I've taught my class I've been bearded. I knew I'd have some weird reactions, but some of them have been downright bizarre.

Savior: "You look like a white dude." (Uuuhhhh . . .I am one.)

Cheyenne: "You look like a manniquin."

Damaris (covering her eyes): "It BURNS, it BURNS!" She later tried to make a beard out of her scarf for me.

Johanny came at me with a marker saying: "It's weird. Let me give you a mustache again."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Good to be back

Last week? Don't even ask. I think seasonal depression turned the entire class into my own personal nightmare. But today they are back and they are on.

While going over a social studies test, Kevin said, "Mr. Rice, I bet you were born in Europe. That's why everyone immigrated away."

Then Savior, who had gone to the nurse after falling out of his chair and hitting his head, saw that I had thrown away his pass back from the nurse. "Hey! Why'd you throw that out?"

"I don't need it anymore."

"But it's my declaration! Of . . .independence . . .from the headbang!"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Unexpected duties

Being an elementary school teacher often involves you saying or doing things that you never would have predicted. Phrases have flown from my mouth that probably no human ever thought they'd say. They usually start with "Why are you . . ." or "Stop . . ."

But sometimes actual activities are unexpected. I had just dropped my class off at lunch and was walking back to my room. A fourth grader in a friend's class was stumbling by, arms full of coats, lunch, books, etc. "MR. RICE!" he called as he stopped near me.


"Pull up my pants!"

"Wait, what?" I heard him clearly but just didn't know how to process the information.

"Please pull up my pants, they're falling!" Sure enough, they were down past his rear. So, him doubled over and desperate, arms full of materials, I had to reach around and pull up the poor kid's pants. Another teacher popped into the hallway and just burst out laughing.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year

I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays. I got some welcome time off and mostly spent it with family. By the end, I had actually come to . . .shiver . . .miss my little dorks. I don't know if that's ever happened before. Well, today they pretty much earned it.

For instance, I was doing a lesson on fractions. "Kevin here is one fifth of the Cheetahs team," I said as an illustration. "He is also--"

"Better than you," he interrupted perfectly. Not much I could say to that one.

Later, I was asking for volunteers to draw out a problem on the white board. Chris volunteered and made a minor mistake that I pointed out. He corrected it. "This is the sort of thing I want you guys to be doing on the class work today," said, meaning the problem he was doing.

"What, making mistakes?" Chris asked.

And during lunch, some of the kids were again eating with me. Cheyenne and Nayelyn were discussing the various cultures in their family, and I told them mine. I went on to say how I like it when various cultures come together and make interesting mixes. Seemingly out of nowhere, Nayelyn asked, "Are you an only child?"

"Uh, yeah," I replied.

"That's probably why you're so interested in other cultures."

This is one of the single most insightful, astute things anyone has ever said about me. God bless her.