Ha, ha, ho, ho, he, he

In keeping with our cover theme of the month, we asked teachers to share lighter moments from their classrooms with us. From the several responses we received, we feature here a few that had us holding our sides. We hope you enjoy reading these as much as we enjoyed putting them together for you.

Trouble in the same cell
One day in class, I was narrating the story of Krishna’s birth. I told my students how reacting to a divine prophecy that foretold his death, Kamsa ended up killing seven of Vasudeva and Devaki’s children before Krishna. One bright student put up his hand and asked, “Ma’am why could Kamsa not have imprisoned Devaki and Vasudeva in different cells? Then they would not have had any children! The rest of the students burst out laughing and I found it difficult to control them.
Srijaya Char

The toilet mystery
One day in my senior English class the boys told me to watch a skit they had made on “Who killed Duncan?” They brought in Sherlock Holmes to cross-examine Macbeth. At one stage Holmes says to Macbeth, “Your Majesty, I desire now to interview your royal wife, her majesty the Queen.” To which Macbeth replied, “Sire, she is to the toilet gone.” (In the end they all agreed it was suicide.)
Brendan Mac Carthaigh

Walking the talk
I was co-facilitating a session for 40 principals with my partner who is British. When explaining the purpose of a Learning Walk, he dramatically pulled off his shoe and said, “So this is what I used as my tool! I wore out the leather on the corridors of the school.” Watching the horrified expressions of the principals I realized what they were thinking and rushed to explain that he meant the shoe was used for walking the corridors and not for beating his students with!!
Kavita Anand

Geometric designs
One day I was teaching geometrical shapes in class. As I started talking about two dimensional shapes like triangles, quadrilaterals, and special quadrilaterals like the parallelogram, square, rectangle, rhombus, and kite, I observed some students whispering. I went to them quietly and asked what the matter was. One of the children answered, “Madam, all these shapes are on your saree pallu.”I immediately raised my saree pallu to see and the entire class started searching for the shapes we were learning about. That was indeed a funny moment.

As I continued the same lesson the next day, the students said, “Madam you should wear the same saree the entire week.” It made the lesson very interesting and none of us ever forgot special quadrilaterals again.
Rashmi Kathuria

Building the right contacts
All of us teachers were correcting the summative assessment papers. A visibly amused colleague, who teaches Hindi, came up to me with an answer sheet in hand. She showed me the answer a boy had written to the question – Describe ten benefits of trees. The boy listed many points and even touched upon ‘Swatch Bharat’. He concluded his answer with this, “Hope you are satisfied with my answer. Otherwise you can contact me at any time. Take note of my mobile number and e-mail id given below….
Sinny Mole

Colour, colour
A lesson on solubility was going on and I decided to take this class to the next level by discussing social issues around water safety, wastage, sewer, etc. I asked the kids if they have seen water in their community in various forms. A resounding “yes” echoed the room. Ok, so kids what different colours of water have you seen in the community? Get into your sharing circles and discuss the variety of colours of water you have seen in the community. I went to visit Team No. 4 and their sharing circle had Mohit telling his group, “I have seen green water, black water, and yellow water.” I thought Oh this is it, my grade 3 kids are getting there. At the end of the sharing circle, I asked Mohit to share his thoughts. Mohit said, “I have seen yellow water, green water, black water in our community.” I said great job Mohit, where have you seen these different coloured water? To this Mohit replied, “Bhaiya I see Maaza, Mountain Dew and Pepsi…and yes bhaiya yes bhaiya I also see Mirinda.”
Rahul Balakrishnan

In health and sickness
It was my first year in the teaching profession. I was teaching human health and diseases to a class of 40 bright and sprightly grade six boys and girls. We had had our fair amount of discussion on almost all possible diseases the kids could think of. Then a hand went up and asked a question that I was dreading the entire morning, “Miss, how is AIDS caused?” While I felt sweat break on my forehead and fumbled with words another hand went up. This 11 year old stood up all wise and confident and answered for me, “I know, I know. When mummy and daddy don’t sleep together they get AIDS!”
Shamim Ujjainwala

The heart of the matter
Last year while mentoring a team of 11 year old children, working on the heart, we had a Korean child who preferred to conduct a survey. He prepared a questionnaire where he asked questions to people about the heart.
The Korean child approached the art teacher.
1. Where is the heart? Everywhere.
2. Who discovered heart? Every one.
3. Does it have any specific shape? No not at all.
4. How does it function? With the help of the mind and brain.

Finally the child asked him, “How many chambers does the human heart have?” The teacher was now shocked and wondered what this child had been asking him about!! The teacher quickly approached me to verify and then I discovered it was a sheer lack of clarity!! The child kept saying heart with the ‘h’ silent and the teacher kept hearing ‘art’ and believed he was being questioned on art.
Meena Sriram

Comedy at the learning centre
In Cilre, an educational organization I work with, the theme for the day was ‘comedy’. One of the learning sessions that day required the children to tell a joke or do something to make the others laugh. While everyone was struggling to successfully complete this task, one kid simply came up and said, “prrrr”. And that set everybody rolling in laughter. He was the quickest.
Gowri Hari

To run or to walk
In an English comprehension test, there was a short picture story called ‘I ran’. It had 10 pictures of a boy, each accompanied by a sentence ‘I ran to the bus stop.’, ‘I ran to school.’, ‘I ran to the library.’, ‘I ran to garden.’, etc. One of the questions following this story was, ‘Do you think the boy in the story will run to the market?’ The expected answer was, ‘Yes the boy will run as he is running to all other places’ or ‘Yes as he is late and running constantly’ or something similar. A student of mine, Sabrin, wrote, ‘No, after running to all these places he is tired, so he will walk.’
Ritika Chawla

A note to the parents
“Ma’am, can you write a note for my parents?”
Oops! Now what? I thought to myself. I turned around and saw him. Short, plump and cute, he stood with a notebook and pencil. He was in grade 5.
“You see, I think I can do the problems that you give. But my parents insist on helping me. I would be happy if you could write a note for my parents.”
What kind of note?
“Please write, ‘M can do his HW himself. Kindly don’t help him.’ That’s all.”
I sat there, nonplussed…
Monica Kochar

Homework trouble
Several years ago, when I was in Chennai, I had the amazing opportunity of teaching English to the Korean community. I taught Korean school children, college students, housewives, and businessmen.

One of my favourite students was Jo, a chubby and naughty 7-year-old. I chided him for constantly forgetting to do his homework. His father was the owner of a Korean restaurant in Chennai and he too wanted to learn English. Unlike the son, the father was rather shy and timid, but very keen on learning English. The son would come for classes in the evening and the father would come early in the morning. One early morning, Jo rang me up to say, “Miss, my father is on his way to your house. He has not done his homework. Please scold him!”
Manaswini Sridhar

The pressure connection
I walked into the classroom after a science class. The children were writing something from the board about Pressure. A girl came up to me and mumbled something. I asked her to repeat it loudly. She said, “If you say so ma’m, can I go and relieve the pressure.. .er..off my bladder?” The whole class burst into peals of laughter.
Prabha Naresh

Spelling her way to success
There was this girl Sonam in class 2 who would never get any of her spellings right. I would give simple dictations every day and collect their books to correct them. To my surprise, one day I found that Sonam had all her spellings right!

Next day in class when all the children were out during lunch I called her and asked her. “How come you have done so well this time? You have got all your words right. Good, keep it up.”

Sonam looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and said, ‘Ma’am, see I copied all the spellings you wrote on the board in my test book itself. I had not given up my test book the last time and you did not notice it.”

I did not know what to tell her.
Srijaya Char

And out jumped the…
We were practicing a play in school, and one boy had to gallop onto the stage, parodying himself being on horseback. I felt he wasn’t putting enough spring into it, so I told him do it again and jump up and down with more vigour. He did – and out of his pocket jumped his pack of bidis.
Brendan Mac Carthaigh

Conditioned minds
Deepak (not his real name) was the class clown. He always disturbed the other students with his mischief. During a chemistry class when we were learning how to write ‘chemical formulae’, I noticed a group of students giggling. “Deepak,stop making others laugh,” I shouted. This was followed by a bigger uproar and someone said “Miss, Deepak is absent today.” I too joined in the laughter. The incident helped me realize how teachers too can be victims of conditioning.
Cynthia D’Costa

Washroom worries
One day, I was teaching commonly used sentences, so I taught my students how to say “Please may I go to the
Washroom,” instead of using the word ‘toilet’. Here is what some of my students said the first week—
Please may I wash your room? I want a washroom (as their other favourite line is “I want a pencil”),
Please my wash the room, I go please wash the room….

Locked out
At the Teach for India training institute, I had classes from Monday to Wednesday. My class absolutely drove me mad….none of the kids were interested in learning; they were out of their seats all the time….they kept talking all the time…jumped on benches…. Nihal especially drove me crazy! This little kid had too much pent up energy. One of the days, Nihal was more difficult than usual to handle so and I asked him to step outside the class for a while. Instead of standing outside the classroom, he walked along the ground floor and locked all the classrooms from the outside, including mine. It was both a funny and frustrating moment! My trainer had to stand up at the window and shout for help! A fellow from the classroom next door gave us a call to unlock her classroom!
itika Chawla

Anxious moments
‘If anyone is not keen on studying, they can leave the classroom,’ I said to the tall grade 10 students. This was my staple statement to students when they were restless. It always worked…or so I thought!
He got up from his seat.
‘Oops’, I thought, ‘Is my ace going to fail today? Is he actually going to leave?’
He looked outside the window, picked up a paper and started walking towards me. I was next to the exit. All eyes, including mine, were on him.
He walked…quietly…thoughtfully; went behind my back and –
-threw the crumpled paper in the dustbin (which incidentally was next to the exit) and walked back to his seat.
The class burst out laughing and my ‘ace’ was dissolved in it.

Scary silence
“I did not do your HW”, he said sauntering into the room I sat correcting books.
He was in the 6th class, the son of my Canadian colleagues and very very mischievous. I had told the students that if they ever missed the HW, they’d better have reasons that silence me completely.
So I watched him, as he stood there, a small smile on his face, and waited.
‘Why did you not do the HW?’ I asked.
“Wellll…I had time for either maths or chemistry. I am more scared of the chemistry teacher, so finished hers on time.”
Hmm…I was rendered silent!
Monica Kochar

Scientist or prime minister?
I teach a set of 40 grade 3 children. That day I decided to start my class as usual with a critical thinking question. I wrote the question on the board, “What is the first thing you would do if you became the Prime Minister of our country?’
After almost 15 minutes, I saw Nikhil sitting rephrasing his lines again and again and asked him if he could share his thoughts. Nikhil replied,” If I become India’s Prime Minister, I will go to Arvind Kejriwal and tell him to take my position because I want to become a scientist.”
Rahul Balakrishnan

All iz well
‘Impact ‘ is our theatre workshop for children. It was the day for Improv and everybody had to improvise and act on the spot.

The children picked up chits of different characters and then they were given the topic:
“What is your problem with the king and the queen?”

Hunter: The Queen wants me to hunt everything. The deer and the rabbits. They run very fast. How am I supposed to hunt them? On skates?
Jeweller: The Queen asks for different patterns all the time. And she wants them fast. I am a jeweller not a magician.
Maintenance worker: The King is stingy! Wants me to repair but does not pay for it.
Beggar (lady): Oh King and Queen! I need money! Nobody respects and cares for me! There are more people like me who need your help.
Queen: We don’t have enough money to renovate our own palace! How are we going to give you money?
Beggar: Oh no! I can’t even beg in this Kingdom ! Alas! The king and queen are poorer than me!
King: Ok take this jewel from the treasury!
Minister: Oh King! How dare you give from public money? Don’t give a jewel! Give her a job!
King: What can I do when she is not capable? I don’t have any money to give her too.
Thief: Oh my my! The king is poor I can’t even rob him.
Messenger: The princess is missing! Some jewellery is missing too!
Queen: Oh no! Hope the princess did not run away with my jewels!
Minister: No! The thief kidnapped her after finding no money in the palace.
King: Is there anything going on correctly in this Kingdom?
Minister: No comments.
After tracking down the princess
Chef: Ok! All is well! All is well! Let’s have a feast! You can call the beggars and the thieves too.

{The children were spontaneous and very casual about it, while we facilitators were roaring with laughter at their improvisation and innocent humour}
Gowri Hari

A matter of states
After an interactive session on the states of matter in a grade 4 science class, where the teacher had been quizzing the students on which state of matter the things around them belonged to, it was time for their next class – social science. In the course of her lesson on water pollution, the social science teacher happened to ask the students, “In which state does the Yamuna flow before entering Delhi?” The teacher expected the students to answer “Haryana”.A child whose mind was perhaps still entangled in the previous lesson very spontaneously replied – “Ma’ám, liquid state” making everyone burst into peals of laughter.

Holiday on the roof
In the week after the summer break, we usually ask the students how they enjoyed their summer and what places they visited during the holidays. This gives them some listening and speaking practice and also helps them bond with their teacher. This year we did it as a circle time activity where peers were also allowed to questions. In one section in grade 1, as the teacher proceeded with the activity, one child said she visited Simla, where her grandmother lived. Since it is a hill station, one of her classmates asked her what she had seen there. She replied very innocently – “Lots of sloping rooftops!”
Kirti Munjal

The bead story
I was 21 when I started teaching at a school in Hyderabad. I taught English prose and grammar to middle school students. The students were rather delighted to have a young teacher; what they were most delighted with, especially the girls, was the fact that I took great care to dress well. The girls would compliment me on my sari and the accessories, especially on my vast collection of vibrant bead necklaces that my father had just got from Hawaii. The minute I stepped into class, the girls would take in every detail of what I was wearing.

After 10 days, one of the plucky girls asked me after class, “Ma’am, you seem to be wearing something new every day! Are you your father’s only daughter?”

Needless to say, I roared with laughter, but admitted it was true! My father, himself a teacher, enjoyed the joke thoroughly!
Manaswini Sridhar

Santa’s little helpers
At a busy time in my school career, it took great skill to pack up from my Resource Centre neatly so as to fulfil my dispersal duty in Class III on the floor below. Some of the eight year olds offered to help. The arrangement worked well for a while barring minor skirmishes over who holds the laptop bag handle and who takes just the shoulder strap! One day I was delayed in the Principal’s office. As I huffed up the steps eventually, I met this astonishing sight! Five third graders were mincing down the steps in a procession. One hugged the laptop to his chest. Another held the bag gingerly, at an angle to his body. A third had aloft the charging cable, overhead! The only girl lugged my handbag. And the fifth of this group was holding my used face towel by the corner, his arm fully outstretched!
Neerja Singh

Standing out
Once I called the parents of class II for a one on one meeting. The purpose was to discuss the progress of their child along with giving away the report cards. Karthik and his parents walked in. In Karthik’s report card, under the remarks column I had written ‘outstanding student’. The mother proudly showed this to Karthik. To our surprise Karthik started crying. On probing why, Karthik, visibly hurt replied, “I never stood outside my class. Why is my teacher saying I am an outstanding student?”
Lakshmi Sujata

Whose number is it anyway?
When I was a student of BSc BEd, our professor asked, “What is Avogadro’s Number?” I replied,“6.023 x 10 to the power 23.” It was a class of 100 students and the professor immediately asked, “Who gave this number?” I immediately replied with hands raised, “I sir” and every one in the class started laughing and that is when I realized what the professor was actually asking.
Shailendra Gupta

A visit to the sun
I was teaching Hindi to class 3. There was a poem describing the sun, the moon and the stars. The class was asked to imagine they were the sun, the moon, or a star and say a few words. We had very interesting presentations by the little ones. Then it was R’s turn, who was posing as the sun. He concluded his talk by saying that he would love to have little kids as visitors. When N heard it, she said that it is so hot on the sun that no one could possibly go there. R replied promptly, “But you must go there in the evening.”

Lunch for God
I went to class 1 to substitute for a teacher on leave. When the bell rang for lunch break, I asked them to say their pre-lunch prayer. They said, “Miss, you sing. We will repeat.” I said, “Why? It is two months since school started. You must have learnt it by now. Come on, give it a try.” They started singing hesitatingly – ‘Thank you God for the girls so sweet…’ I was wondering why they were saying ‘girls’ but soon realized that they were saying it instead of ‘world’. They ended the prayer as –‘Thank you God for everything, and now pick up your lunch box’. God was asked to pick up the lunch box? Why? Later I came to know that they were used to repeating the prayer after their teacher who would instruct them to pick up their lunch box in continuation with the last line of the prayer!
Nalini Ravel

English woes
I can recollect one funny incident that my father used to relate about his PT master. The PT master was a very jovial person and always struggled with his English. Once when he had taken the school team to another town for a tournament and was running out of cash, he sent a telegram to the Principal. The Head found it very amusing and promptly put it up on the notice board. The whole school had a good laugh after viewing the telegram the next day. It said:
Hockey gone, football gone
Pocket empty, send fifty.
Prabha Naresh

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