Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Old sayings, Last Days of May

It happened again yesterday. In trying to explain something to my students to make it more clear I confused them into verbal anarchy. It doesn’t take much in these last days of May, especially with seniors.

The scene: after lunch class on senior skip day in the midst of analyzing a poem about the aftermath of war. 

Yes-I see that nod of sympathy.

In trying to explain the speaker’s attitude, that there were tones of irony, I dropped in the expression “tongue-in-cheek.” The eight students who did show up to class (only because they could not miss any more days) pretty much lost it. I spent the next ten minutes trying to explain to a group of nearly graduated teens that the expression meant to not be totally serious, having to do something with facial expressions when a person is not telling the total truth. They were thinking of other possibilities . One student even licked another student’s cheek. Of course, this is the same student who interrupted my class to bring me a live cricket and dropped it on my desk thinking I would be amused.

*Sigh* There’s how many days until school is over? 

No, that’s what teachers are saying. For students? They are in school barely. Only by sheer habit or momentum at this point. I asked one student to stay on task instead of chattering about everything except the assignment. She replied: “But it’s so hard.”

May. Mother, May I take a giant step forward to June 10th?

May we call school due to the lack of interest?

Oh, by the way–I’m switching to sophomores next year. Just saying. Correlation? What correlation?

Wait–is that being tongue in cheek?

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17 thoughts on “Old sayings, Last Days of May

  1. Oh dear. And I thought I was discouraged about the whole not writing in cursive business!

  2. The first rule of English class should be “Keep your tongue to yourself.”

  3. Keeping students into June seems like such a bad idea. I’ve never been at a school that went longer than mid-May, which was still pretty bad.

  4. As the parent of a 6th grader who will be out of school in less than two weeks, I am thankful that the last “project” was turned in yesterday. I don’t know how year-round schools do it. I really don’t. You have my deepest gratitude and sympathies for your excellence in teaching. Why don’t you try using the phrase “foot in mouth,” or “knickers in a twist,” or “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” and see what their response is? Perhaps all at the same time? That way, your classroom could resemble the game called Twister….Just don’t let them go “belly up” or say “over my dead body.” You could, however, tell them you’re “tired of beating your brains out” over their lack of idiomatic knowledge. I’m sure one of them would most likely think you said “idiotic knowledge.” Because they’re seniors….

  5. It’s all swings and roundabouts…that’s an obscure ne for your part of the world I believe.

  6. Have a great summer! Great post except for the fact you don’t want to keep those students forever.

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