Why I Want to Karate-Chop the SmartBoard and 19 Other Rants

About Jake Miller

Mr. Jake Miller teaches middle school history near Harrisburg, PA. He is the 2016 National History Day Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year and a 2017 NEA Foundation Teacher of Excellence. His articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, WeAreTeachers, and several other periodicals, but Miller has called TER home since 2012.

Why I want to karate-chop the SmartBoard

I worked for a district who had the nicest SmartBoards and projectors around. I liked them, they were easy to use, and they were only there a few years. But, the darndest thing happened: the same year we took a forced pay freeze, the district purchased new equipment – because if they didn’t they’d lose the money. Socrates, one of the world’s greatest teachers, stood at a stone podium and gave his students one question to discuss for the entire day. Just give me the $5,000 it cost for that new tech equipment and let me be Socrates.

Other rants:

  1. The bleeding heart.
    Back when I went to school, teachers taught and kids learned. Sure, they cared about you on the side and they would help you however they could, but they weren’t expected to wear 30 hats in the same day.
  2. Parents who will believe their children instead of responsible, upstanding adults (TEACHERS).
    If my teachers ever called home, it was a guaranteed prison sentence. Today, when a teacher calls home to tell parents of their child’s behavior, it’s like we need a warrant to proceed.
  3. The Zero.
    Why in God’s name is 60% of the grading scale dedicated to failing grades, and only 10% dedicated to mastery? Better question, why do teachers employ the zero? Do they simply want student to fail?
  4. Zero tolerance policies.
    If I read another story about a Kindergartener who was expelled for drawing a gun or bringing a toy to school, I’m going to freak out.
  5. Teachers who don’t behave the way they expect students to.
    Wait in line for lunch, Johnny! (while I cut ahead of you)
    Spit out your gum into that can (chomp chomp chomp)
    Nobody’s allowed to use their phones in class! (oh, look, a text from my Realtor)

  6. Politicians.
    You’ve probably heard the har-har adage of, “those who can’t do – teach.” Well, those who can’t teach – legislate. And everybody seems to have a solution to education without talking to the masses of the 3 million educators that work in the field. PS: Your legislative aide who taught for 1 year doesn’t count.
  7. Teachers who are trying to politically warp kids.
    If you read my articles, you’ll see that I’m incredibly politically active – writing to legislators regularly, hosting political debates, appearing on television discussing political issues, and more. But, in my classroom, while I’ll occasionally share my opinions, my job is to help students find their own. That’s it.
  8. People who disregard the impact of bullying.
    There was a kid who just took his own life in the next school district. And for every one of them, there are hundreds more who suffer severe targeting. Each and every one of us can recall someone who made us feel awful about ourselves – let’s not permit that to perpetuate.
  9. The complaints in the faculty lounge.
    When I didn’t have a classroom in a previous assignment and always had to go there for my home base, it almost broke me and nearly ended my career. I can still taste that sour feeling of my stomach approaching the back of my throat.
  10. Carbs. Everywhere. In. School.
    If I escape the candy dish in the office, there are no less than 3 cookie trays in the teacher lounge(s). Oh, and the kids made cupcakes for a classmate’s birthday. It’s hard to go paleo-keto here.
  11. Box Tops 4 Education.
    Why is it again that companies have us cut off and save the tops of their choco-granola snack bars and yet I can’t get a damn box of tissues for my classroom during flu season?
  12. Sicknesses.
    ABC News said that there are “27 times more germs on teachers laptops and mouses than the other professions studied.” Ahhhh-Choo!
  13. People who call teaching “a back-up plan.”
    I sure hope you don’t have kids of your own. Or is that just your back-up plan there, too?
  14. Signing out to use the bathroom.
    I did the math – if a student asks me to go to the bathroom once a day for my entire career, I’ll spend 53.4 hours talking to kids about me permitting them to perform a bodily function they have limited control over. Just go, kid (but not in here!)
  15. Deathly quiet classrooms – every day.
    Learning is loud. Certainly, if you’re reading a book or taking a test, there’s plenty of time for silence there. But if your classroom isn’t a bit of barely controlled chaos every once in a while, your students might not be learning.
  16. Not letting students carry water – or (GASP!) eat a snack.
    See those kids running to lunch at 1p? They’ve been famished for 5 hours, only able to get a sip of water here and there and being held from food (while the teacher snacks – see #5). If you want to run a car, make sure it has gasoline. If you want to teach a kid, make sure he/she is filled up, too.
  17. Major textbook companies.
    I don’t need you and the $4,000 the district just spent on your books. They should’ve given me the bonus instead.
  18. Differentiation.
    You want me to teach a single, amazing lesson in a dozen different ways? Is that even possible? Don’t get me wrong, I mix up my approach each day – but let’s be reasonable, here. Do you ever try and handle 30 hormone-driven individuals at the same time by yourself?
    Yeah, differentiate that.
  19. Punishing the class for one kid’s mistakes.
    That’s it, we’re shutting down comments on this post for everyone, too, because of that troll who disagreed with half of these!

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About the Author:

Mr. Jake Miller teaches middle school history near Harrisburg, PA. He is the 2016 National History Day Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year and a 2017 NEA Foundation Teacher of Excellence. His articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, WeAreTeachers, and several other periodicals, but Miller has called TER home since 2012.

3 Comments

  1. Dan McConnell January 7, 2018 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    Great stuff, Jake. I was worried that one of my recent submissions about tech in the class would echo yours too much (I spend some of it on the SMART Board) but you get in a lot more meat here in yours. 100% with you on political warping, the lounge, and quiet classrooms.

  2. Jennifer Wolfe January 7, 2018 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    Love the title – and the rants! Thank you!

  3. Mike January 7, 2018 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    I love this article. Thanks for continuing to write the Truth, Jake!

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