12 Hilarious School Stories From Across Canada
If you’re looking to take a master class in humour, look no further than our country’s classrooms.
My School’s Kitchen Catastrophe
Growing up in 1970s Toronto, my reality was rooted in the strictly defined gender roles of the nuclear family. So you can imagine how novel we found it when my public school began offering Grade 8 boys’ cooking as part of the curriculum. I promptly signed up.
At our first class, I looked around at my dozen or so fellow pioneers. Our culinary expertise ranged from “absolutely no cooking experience” to “almost no cooking experience.” As a growing boy, I seemed to be hungry all day long. The good news, then, was that we had to eat what we cooked.
The bad news was that we had to eat what we cooked.
We started off slowly with a classic, the boiled egg. I was not aware there were quite so many ways to botch the dish. Next we tackled toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, canned SpaghettiOs, French toast—for a European gourmet touch—and chocolate chip cookies. By late in the term, we were feeling confident, even cocky, in the kitchen.
Then came our culinary comeuppance: Rodeo Stuffed Hot Dogs. They were our culminating assignment—the Grade 8 equivalent of a Ph.D. dissertation. The class was split into teams to make the complex and challenging dish, which involved stuffing wieners full of medium cheddar cheese, wrapping them in strips of bacon anchored by toothpicks, then baking and broiling the entire creation to perfection. To an adolescent boy, hot dogs, cheese and bacon all at once was nothing short of nirvana.
The preparation proceeded satisfactorily. Even the baking seemed to progress as intended, the cheese melting and the bacon sizzling. But my team ran into trouble when we turned on the broiler to brown our masterpieces. It really wasn’t our fault; we were distracted by the members of another group, who were busy extracting their Rodeo Stuffed Hot Dogs from the oven and placing them on the counter to cool. The aroma was tantalizing. We huddled around those heavenly hot dogs and were mesmerized, paralyzed … until plumes of black smoke rising from our neglected oven abruptly ended our reverie.
It was only a small fire, but there seemed to be much more smoke than four incinerated wieners could possibly have produced. Still, we were saluted as that day’s heroes, thanks to the fire alarm, ensuing evacuation and early dismissal of the entire student body. – Terry Fallis
Plus: Adults Should Never, Ever Put This Condiment on a Hot Dog
I wore my hair in a long ponytail all winter, but when spring came around, I decided it was time for a change and had my locks cut short and coloured. Not long after, when I arrived at the Grade 1 class I was teaching, one student commented, “Teacher, you got a new head!” – Margaret Peterson
Children say the darndest things. Here’s the proof!
Out of This World
Being a teacher is fun because when you’re sitting at your desk, kids will act as though there’s a soundproof force field around you. The false confidence that they won’t be heard leads to entertaining moments, like this exchange in which two Grade 11 boys in a science class were discussing their futures.
“You know what I wanna be when I grow up?” the first student said. “An astronaut.”
The second student adopted a quizzical look, as if to suggest he’d seen his classmate’s science mark and doubted a job at NASA was on the horizon. Still, the first student continued, “I want to be an astronaut because I’m going to be the first person to land on the sun.”
The boy’s friend looked at him even more incredulously and said, “You can’t land on the sun. It’s way too hot. That’ll never happen.” But the first student persevered. With conviction, he responded, “Yeah, I know it’s too hot. That’s why I’m going to land on it at night.” – John Cullen
Canada’s most beloved space explorer, Chris Hadfield, reminds us there’s no place like home.
As an elementary-school principal, I often called children into my office for talks when they were being disciplined. I kept a record of those conversations in a book on my desk, and students were aware I made notes about our meetings.
After one such chat with a boy in Grade 4, the book mysteriously disappeared. After we’d done a bit of sleuthing, the school counsellor and I discovered the student had taken it and was bragging to a friend. I brought the perpetrator into my office for another conversation.
“My notebook is missing,” I said. “Do you know anything about that?”
When he said no, I pressed on: “You were the last one in my office before it went missing. I think you took it. What do you think?”
Without hesitation, he answered, “I think it’s all a fig nut of your imagination.” – Vi Hughes
Check out these innovative Canadian educators!
It was Montreal, the 1980s; I was teaching English at Concordia University and was acutely aware of my inability to converse in French as fluently as I desired. To fix this, I’d enrolled in an intensive two-month French-immersion course. Our class was a motley crew: grandmothers with time on their hands, professionals from everywhere but Quebec needing to pass French proficiency tests, teenagers fulfilling course requirements, and me, a starry-eyed and enthusiastic 29-year-old. I was determined to be bilingual.
Often we were asked to just get up and speak. Our topics were randomly assigned, as our teacher wanted to make sure we hadn’t prepared in advance. One day my turn came. “Please tell the class what you did yesterday,” my teacher said in French.
I’d made jam the previous evening. But what was the word for the confection en français? In English, we refer to the spread as “preserves,” so I tried to turn that into something that at least sounded French.
“Hier j’ai fait des préservatifs.” (“Yesterday I made jam”—at least I hoped that’s what I’d said.)
The class giggled. The Korean businessman in the green suit covered his mouth with his hands. Pleased that my first stab had been successful, I continued: “J’ai fait des préservatifs aux fraises, aux framboises et aux bleuets. J’ai donné à goûter à ma mère et ma belle-mère.” (“I made jam from strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. I gave some to my mother and mother-in-law to taste.” Or so I thought.)
Now the teacher was laughing; not a chuckle, a full-throated, hearty guffaw. “Surely,” she said, “You know that a préservatif is a condom!”
Humiliated, I sat down. To this day, I’ve never forgotten the French word for “condom.” – Virginia Fisher Yaffe
Everyone in the world should know these 10 French phrases.
I worked as an elementary-school teacher for 35 years. Back in the ’80s, I used to wear a slip under my skirts and dresses. One day during a grammar lesson, I felt something sliding down my legs, underneath my skirt. Suddenly, my black slip fell to the floor, settling around my ankles. I tried to kick it to the corner of the room unnoticed, but it was too late—all my students were staring at my feet.
At a loss, I decided to face my wardrobe malfunction head on. I picked up the wayward garment and waved it around my head until the whole class burst out laughing. The incident has become part of my legacy: when I run into old students, they still bring up the slip, not the excellent grammar lesson I gave that fateful February morning. – Carole Touchette
A Loyal Following
In my Grade 2 class, students are encouraged to work independently and to use their problem-solving skills. One day, a pupil began following me throughout the classroom. Whenever I turned around, he would be standing there. Eventually I said, jokingly: “You don’t need to follow me. Would you follow me over a cliff if I jumped off?”
He looked at me very seriously before responding, “Yes, to see if you were okay!” – J. Russell
This past May, my seven-year-old daughter’s teacher gave her class an assignment: to write helpful notes to characters from well-known stories they’d read. When asked what advice she would offer the first Billy Goat Gruff, my killjoy second-grader had this to say: “If I were you, I’d find another bridge nearby. You could also go find another spot that has grass instead of crossing the troll bridge. You can also wait until he is gone.” – Stephany Aulenback
In 2007, I transferred to a new school for Grade 12. Having spent 11 years being solidly uncool, I was determined to keep my head down and make it to June. When the bell rang at the end of the first day, I realized I really needed to pee. The only problem? I didn’t know where any of the bathrooms were. Soon I was lost, winding in big, panicky loops around the building as crowds of teens pushed by. I tried to look confident—I didn’t get up at 7 a.m. that morning to learn how to contour my cheekbones for nothing—but inside I was thinking, So this is how it all ends for me.
Finally, bingo! Spotting the universal “women’s washroom” stick-figure symbol, I rushed inside. It wasn’t until I stepped out of the stall to wash my hands that I realized every other person in the room seemed older than me. That’s weird, I thought. Do students and teachers share bathrooms at this school?
“You’re not supposed to be in here,” one of the faculty members said. Muttering an apology, I left, drying my hands on my jeans. Sure enough, on the door outside, big letters spelled out “TEACHERS ONLY.” My hopes of keeping a low profile were instantly dashed: the halls were still crowded and everyone saw me coming out. Their looks seemed to say, Ugh, what a teacher’s pet. She even whizzes with the faculty. – Anna Fitzpatrick
My Grade 4 students knew the only acceptable excuse for incomplete homework was a note from their parents. One morning, everyone had turned in their assignments except for Robbie. When he told me his dog had eaten it, I couldn’t help but laugh. “Nice try,” I said. “That’s the oldest excuse in the book!” Since he was usually a responsible student, I gave him another copy of the work and told him to return it the next day.
Later on, as I was heading to my car after school, I spotted the student walking his dog with his dad. I teased: “Robbie, is this the dog that ate your homework?”
I was shocked when his father replied very seriously: “Oh yes, Mrs. Jones. Robbie was so worried he would get in trouble!” – Eva Jones
We were having a discussion in our kindergarten class about the languages spoken by the students. I teach in a multicultural school, so most children responded that they spoke two languages: English and their mother tongue. One little boy raised his hand and declared proudly that he spoke three languages. When asked which ones, he replied confidently: “English, Urdu and Bonjour!” – Karen Melvin
More Than I Can Bear
At the height of the plush backpack craze in the late 1990s, I was teaching at a public elementary school in Ottawa. Two students in my Grade 5 class were obsessed with their Winnie the Pooh bags and never let them out of their sight. One day I teased the girls about their packs, shaped like one of the whiniest heroes in children’s literature. “He’s always complaining and is unwilling to put in the effort to change his situation,” I said to them of the character who famously uttered, “For I am a bear of very little brain and long words bother me.” My students’ response, which did little to boost this teacher’s spirits: “But Madame! He is SO cute!”
The next morning, determined to make my point, I brought a copy of Winnie the Pooh to class. Launching into the book, I adopted different voices and mannerisms for Winnie, Eeyore, Piglet and company. I was enjoying myself so much that I began to laugh, which got the class giggling, which increased my mirth until tears streamed down my cheeks. The students and I struggled to regain control as best we could, wrapping up storytime with grins on our faces.
When those same students graduated a few years later, one of the kids wrote me a note that said, “I’ll always remember when you laughed so hard you cried.” And that’s my take-away: when children see an adult enjoy herself that much, it means something. That storytime was one of the most delightful moments of my career—thanks to one very querulous bear. – Alana Forrester
Plus: 12 Things You Didn’t Know About the First Day of School