Things Teachers Do: The 5 Stupidest Lesson Ideas Ever!


Do not try these lessons at home!

In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Day (May 5) and as a memorial to the great Moe Howard (Three Stooges), who died on May 4, 1975, I bring you “The 5 Stupidest Lesson Ideas Ever,” all of which I have actually done in an actual classroom.

Although these lessons might attempt to cover common core standards, they are so ineffective that it doesn’t matter. Some of them are actual lessons and others are just things teachers do.

Stupidest Lesson Idea #1: Start a Rumor

Yes, they do!

I honestly don’t remember what exactly we were studying at the time this stupid lesson idea came to mind. It might have been just a random classroom conversation about the power of words, or maybe we were reading The Crucible, or maybe we had just read a figuratively personified description of rumors having wings. Whatever it was, it prompted me to come up with one of the stupidest ideas ever: Start a rumor!

So I started a rumor. It involved me getting sued by the school district and nearly fired for wishing someone a Merry Christmas. I didn’t think there was anyway anybody would believe this…until colleagues started to rally around me for support. Teachers I hadn’t ever talked to would come and offer me words of encouragement. My administrator came by to assess the situation.

Needless to say, I had some explaining to do.

Stupidest Lesson Idea #2: Identify Parts of Speech by Throwing Plastic Eggs at Me

Stupid Things Teachers Do

These things hurt more than you realize when they’re being chucked at you by bored teens.

This might be, perhaps, the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, but since it didn’t involve a getting fired component, I ranked it #2. We’ve all been there. I was a relatively new teacher trying to make things interesting. And making the parts of speech interesting isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do, so after teaching adverbs, I decided to read a short story. And every time I said a word that was an adverb, students could throw plastic Easter eggs at me. First off, you’re thinking (which I obviously wasn’t at the time), “Why did you have that many plastic Easter eggs?” That’s not important. The important thing is I had enough so that each student had about 5 each.

So I start reading, and I’m pretty sure I hadn’t come across an adverb in the first 4 words, but that didn’t stop a dozen or so students from hurling Easter eggs at my head. As I kept reading, the barrage continued, but since I was guarding my head, they were aiming at other sensitive areas. I’m still not sure why I continued reading, but I did until all the plastic eggs had been launched.

Don’t ever do this.

Stupidest Lesson Idea #3: Let’s Go Outside and Read Wordsworth

Wordsworth:Things Teachers Do

This is Wordsworth wondering what in the world I was thinking.

This is one of the things teachers do that’s practically universal: the let’s go outside because it’s a nice day lesson. This is one of the biggest rookie mistakes committed by well intended-newbies to the profession. You want to be the “cool teacher.” It’s a really nice day out. Your students, in the sweetest voice possible, ask, “Can we go outside and read this?” They always follow it up with, “I think we’ll learn better outside.” So I thought, “Hey let’s read British Romantic poetry, a little Wordsworth, perhaps. What could possibly go wrong?”

So everybody lugs their gigantic literature books out into the courtyard, laughing inwardly about how stupid and gullible their English teacher is for letting them go outside to read. And of course they can in no way relate to “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” because they live in a freaking desert. But they don’t care because they’re outside not paying attention to you. By the time you realize you made a huge mistake, your administrator walks by and wants to know what in the name of John Keats you’re doing outside!

Not a good look.

Stupidest Lesson Idea #4: I’ll Just Give You a Vocabulary Worksheet in Case Someone Comes In and We’ll Watch March Madness

Just want to remind you that UNLV won the national championship in 1990!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, it just so happened someone did come in. And here I am, sitting down with my students watching basketball. And that vocabulary worksheet that nobody was doing didn’t really help. By the way, the most effective way to ruin your enjoyment of a nicely played game of basketball is to have your boss walk in. So then I faced the “What should I do that my boss walked in and I know I’m doing something wrong but I need to play it off like I’m not so I can’t just stop what I’m doing but maybe I should” dilemma. So I invited her to join us. She declined and invited me into her office later that day. It did not go well.

That was long ago and many good things came out of it. For example, I created this awesome March Madness lesson plan and a rubric to go with it, so I could fulfill my responsibilities to the tax-payers of this great nation… while watching March Madness.

Now we have live streaming.

Stupidest Lesson Idea #5: Everybody Just Grab a Book and Pick Out Something to Read for the Next 20 Minutes

Writing Lesson Plans

Avoid the stampede and other waste of time lesson ideas with these 8 simple writing lesson plans (described here). You can save yourself a lot of pain.

This is also known as the “Oh bleep! My original lesson plan took 20 fewer minutes than I thought it would and now I have to keep these damn kids occupied for the next 20 minutes or all heck’s going to break loose” lesson plan. Things like this usually happen on a Friday, around 6th period, toward the end of the school year.

Here’s how this lesson plan usually shakes out: (1) You finish your lesson; (2) You look at the clock; (3) You swear under your breath; (4) You frantically search your mind for anything to do; (5) You decide to have everyone come get a book and read for the next 20 minutes; (6) All 36 students rush to the bookshelf at once; (7) All 36 students talk at once; (8) 23 of the 36 students suffer minor injuries in the book stampede; (9) 3 students are rushed to the emergency room after getting trampled in the book stampede.

At which time, you lie in the fetal position, sucking your thumb, hoping this entire incident doesn’t end up on YouTube.

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