A Little Nonsense Now and Then…

Posted: Friday, July 12th, 2013


I’ll always remember the day my fifth grade teacher drew on her face with a dry erase marker.

She was writing on the ol’ overhead projector like she always did, and suddenly stopped. There was no buildup, no warning at all. a little nonsense now and then

She drew a mustache and a goatee. I think she added freckles and an exaggerated smile, but I can’t confirm it. We all giggled. She didn’t say anything. She was at ease, like she was putting on makeup with nobody watching. It was over in 60 seconds.

I can’t remember the context surrounding this event. I don’t know what subject she was teaching at the time. I don’t know what time of day it was. I don’t know if the class was attentive, rowdy or bored.

I wish I could remember, because I’m fascinated by this. It was so unexpected. This teacher wasn’t particularly wacky. What was she thinking?

Did she plan it ahead of time or did she do it on a whim? If she planned it, did she set a time to do it, or did she wait for the right moment? If she was waiting for the right moment, how long did she wait? Hours? Days? Weeks? Months? Goodness gracious sakes alive, what if she waited months for the right moment? Was she a comedic genius?

And what about the aftermath? How did she get to a sink to clean it off before anyone saw her marked-up face? If the principal spotted her, would she have been in trouble? Or did she clear it with the principal beforehand?

There are as many questions as lessons. She was teaching when she did this. Indeed, she was teaching. Here are just three lessons for us to learn:

1) To teach is to entertain. This probably gets harder with each passing year as kids have more and more to see on their computers and TVs, but that’s no excuse for not trying. Every teacher could learn a bit from the keys of entertainment: Know your audience. Be engaging. Be unpredictable. Pay attention to rhythm and timing. Start strong and end strong. All that.

2) Leave a mark. Whoever you are, make people remember you for something good. My fifth grade teacher left a mark, literally, and it’s practically the only thing I remember from that school year. I’m sure she was at least a decent educator, but I don’t remember. Being proficient at what you do is fine, but nobody should stop there. Be creative. Think outside the box. Do something you’re not known for doing.

3) There’s nothing like silliness. Nobody lies on their deathbed wishing they had been more serious in their life (unless they’re lying). Humor is important. You’ve got to laugh. You’ve got to. Don’t be afraid to make a joke that’s not funny. It is funny. You’re funny and you don’t know it. Be courageous. Be cheesy. Like Cheetos.

“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.”
–Willy Wonka

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3 Responses to “A Little Nonsense Now and Then…”

  1. Mr. Mell Says:

    Nothing better than stepping out of the expected role and being a goofball.

  2. Lisa Mims Says:

    And yes, you can smile on the first day. As a matter of fact, you can smile and laugh the entire year! Making a difference is what we do. I would never draw on my face, but I always find ways to engage my students. :)

  3. Candice Abellon Says:

    This makes me think of two things: my own 5th grade teacher and my high school social studies teacher of two years. His whole lesson plan was an act but he made us kids perform too, even literally. And she was so passionate teaching history that her colleagues, our other teachers, didn’t believe us. Couldn’t believe it of her, who was apparently generally mild mannered. She reenacted whole episodes of history for us. I just wish I was better with dates. Between those two teachers alone if I were just better at remembering dates I’d have the first 100 years of American history memorized.

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