Baboon Redux – First Grade With Dr. Franklin

Today’s repeat guest blog was originally submitted by Donna in 2010.

Our school office regularly sends newsletters home to inform families about upcoming events, fundraisers, procedures, and other relevant items. A couple of years ago my colleagues and I were strongly invited to contribute to the newsletter by writing a few notes about the goings on in our classrooms. My turn fell on the week of my birthday, which made it very special … so special, that I submitted two descriptions.

Here’s the piece they rejected:

First graders in room 102 are learning about weather tools that can measure temperature, wind and rain. On Tuesday we taped crepe paper streamers to craft sticks and predicted which condition our tool would measure. Next we took our tools outside and observed what happened when we stood and held them above our heads. Then we tried walking, skipping and running with them. Back in our room we discussed our observations and concluded we had made the perfect tool for measuring how loudly we can scream and shout.

Next week we will take our inquiry a step further and design another weather tool. Scattered thunderstorms are forecasted so we will measure the intensity of lightning. Please send a wire coat hanger and pair of pliers with your child by Monday. Please include a pair of rubber-soled shoes for your child to keep in his locker, since we won’t know until we hear thunder that it is time to take our weather tools outside. Please sign and return the parental release form that you will find today in your child’s folder. And finally, a great big THANK YOU for helping your child explore the exciting world of weather!

“Which of your teachers was the biggest smart aleck?”

56 thoughts on “Baboon Redux – First Grade With Dr. Franklin”

  1. I missed this one the first time around. donna is such a character. i didn’t have many teachers with a sense of humor as far as class participation went. I had some in a friend capacity but not as teachers.
    I went to 1st grade in public schools (I think the catholic school must have wanted the public schools to teach spelling and math to first graders before sending them over. I can’t think of any other reason to start in 2grade for catholic school offering) the. on to catholic school 3 through 6 rookie, nun, crazy lady threw shoes and locked us in closets, nun and old old woman who was crabby and lost, then on to public school with modular scheduling and hippies both on student level and teacher level,
    I think today kids realize teachers are people and you deal with the ones you get warts and all but in the 60’s it was not normal to question teacherly authority, no teachers screwed around, they were all in teacher mode all the time. thanks to my English teachers and a few science teachers who were human if not smart alecks
    thanks to donna for her post gone by. I miss donna.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I had pretty good teachers, and not a one was a smart aleck. I had a grad school prof named Seymour who was a real character, right from the Bronx, who was short and round and very funny, full of New York chutspa. and a wonderful teacher and therapist. I, too, miss Donna. I guess the glittering whirlwind of activity in Sioux Falls ( or else Carlos) takes her away from us.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Like tim, I don’t recall this one.

    Also like tim, I did not really hsve any smsrt-aleckteachers, I can’t even think of any with a great comic tendency. Unlike tim I don’t recall any that were flat out crazy.

    The only one that leaps to mind was the guy I had for Bio-stats at University of Iowa. It would have been dull as dirt were it not for the undercurrent of warfare between the prof amd a classroom mostly made up of earnest nursing students. I was there as a grad student, can’t remember why.

    Ond day the prof lit up a cigarette and kept on lecturing. I don’t think I ever saw a teacher do that before or since.

    Sure enough, one of the nurses immediately informed him he was not supposed to smoke in the classroom. You could see there were plenty of others ready to back her up.

    He replied that was fine with him, threw up the sash on one of the big old windows and sat on the sill and lectured from there.

    That and the fact that if you are good at it, you can make stats prove whatever you like have really stuck with me.

    Lies, goddam lies, and statistics….

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Morning all. I remember this one (because it’s hysterical) although I don’t remember my answer back then. I can’t remember any teachers who were smart-alecks. Definitely a few “characters”. My fav was a professor I encountered after I finally went back to school to get my degree. The first class I took from him he used the word “boustrophedonically” (the way oxen turn at the end of a furrow and head back the other direction). If he hadn’t been already married, I would have flung myself on him right then and there! I ended up taking every course he taught at the university. Fascinating fellow.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I do. He is now head of the department at the university, so teaching less (which I think is a shame).

        He would bring in slides from his travels if they were pertinent to the course and I realized after a couple of classes that he liked to stand/sit/lay in places where “history was made”. I shared this fascination about where things happened, so occasionally over the years I’ve sent him photos of myself in places of historical note. It’s fun.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Just finished a short story -about a smart aleck first grade teacher. Pure fiction. I knew a few teachers who were smart asses in the faculty room but never had one. Had some funny teachers. Had a couple teachers who were bullies towards students. One was a bully in the faculty room and ignored the kids in the classroom. He could be a very dangerous man because he had power elsewhere. At the U of Chi had a Humanities (survey of the arts) prof who exploded a book of matches while trying to manage a tape player. (Yes, in days smoking was common in most classes.) The rest of the class he carried a glass of water with his thumb sticking into it. He did it about 10 minutes into a two hour class.
    Oh, yeah, had a real smart ass teacher for freshman comp at U of Chi. He would read papers we wrote to the class and make cutting but funny remarks. But we all knew he meant every word of it.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Donna’s question is laughable for someone with my history. Smart aleck teachers? Good grief! My elementary school teachers didn’t have private lives, husbands, first names, children, hobbies, accessible personalities or any kind of sense of humor. They were called Miss Carlson, Miss Maybe, Miss Bentley, Miss Moore and (my arch enemy) Miss Steele. To understand them, you need to compare them to worker bees or ants who toil for the common good but are not fully developed induviduals. They were mostly white-haired spinsters because a woman with no husband or family had no distractions or duties to prevent her from being on call for unrewarded school assignments.

    I looked forward to fifth grade because it was the one grade taught by a younger woman who was friendly and pretty. But when she became pregnant, Miss Thompson was banned from teaching in our school. You might think that would be a normal response to a scandalous pregnancy. But Miss Thompson was scandalous only because she differed from the other teachers. A pious church-going woman, she was married, yet she was rushed offstage before her pregnancy began to show. The authorities dragged Miss Bentley out of retirement, a tough old biddy who hated youngsters and dominated them with blows from a metal-edged ruler.

    So . . . no smart alecks!


    1. My mom was an elementary school teacher, but she was no smart aleck. She was a pretty nice teacher, as I have been told by those who had her. I think the most scandalous teacher at Luverne Elementary was the woman who also operated a brothel in Sioux Falls. She was immediately terminated after adminstration found out about it.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. As I recall, she was married to this guy who was somewhat psychiatrically disabled, and who walked up and down mainstreet in a big cowboy hat. Every time we drove past him, my dad (a real smart aleck) would say to me “There is the man who planned the Brinks Robbery”. It took me years to realize he was kidding.

          Liked by 2 people

      1. She was a batty old gal with queer ideas who dominated her students and forced them to follow her orders. For example, she had invented rules for pronunciation, based on her own sense of things. Students who misspoke were shamed.

        My mother was shocked one afternoon to see me walking home from school in the street instead of on the sidewalk. She demanded to know why. I told her I was ashamed and I deserved to be hit by a car because I spoke incorrectly. (Miss Steele insisted that I pronounce “good” with an exaggerated “oo” sound, as in “rude.”) Miss Steele disliked children. The only thing she liked about teaching was forcing little brats to bend to her will.

        And then there was the clash we had over the Christmas concert. A long story.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m not downplaying how awful she was, but I’m thinking what a horrible life, to have a job which she must have hated (if she really didn’t like kids) day in and day out. It must have been torture to her too!


        2. Miss Steele once tore up a finger painting I’d made of a heart, declaring it was not art. My dad got so mad he went to school to scold her. He was an artist. I can’t tell you how radical a step that was back then, telling a teacher she was a doofus.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. No, Barbara. As I recall Miss Steele stood her ground when my dad told her what he thought of her art teaching. He mainly needed to speak his mind. In those days, nobody talked back to teachers.


    2. In Lake Superior School District (Two Harbors and Silver Bay) until the mod 60’s a woman could teach only if she were single, married to a husband attending college, married to a husband in the military. No woman could teach who was known to be pregnant. I spent the early 80’s winning back rights for women who had been let go when their husbands got jobs or for pregnancy and had later been hired back. I won every case but had to fight each case separately.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. Yeah Clyde–way to go. My mother was one of those married women teaching who had to quit because she was pregnant (with me). They then deliberately “rehired” her repeatedly to sub due to a teacher shortage in rural Iowa.


  7. I remember a smart aleck teacher when I went to a Catholic grade school — Mr. Neuman. He was a fun guy. Unfortunately, one of my older sisters dated him for a while so he came to our house for supper once. Super embarrassing, though he was quite nice.

    One day in class, the inter-office/classroom phone rang. He waited to see if it rang 2 times, which meant it was for him. He strode over to phone, picked it up and in a loud, but friendly voice said, “Good Morning, George’s Laundromat.” All of us 5th graders burst out laughing. Then he said, “oh, Father Schuh, it’s you” with a significant amount of chagrin. Fr. Schuh was the grim-faced, dour pastor of the parish, church and school. I’m not sure what he wanted, but I remember that moment clearly as we all had a good laugh. He did other goofy stuff in the classroom.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I do remember humor. Mr. Mairs in 10th grade biology (the one where we had to do the Bug Collection) was probably closest one to a smart-aleck, but I can’t remember any specifics. There were others with a tounge-in-cheek kind of humor – one surprisingly, Mr. Benbow, because he was usually kind of subdued, but if you paid attention, you could catch some zingers.

    I can remember one in 7th grade who thought he was funny, but he was that bully type so it missed the mark.
    Will think more about this…


  9. Yup, I also grew up in the era of “There Will Be No Married Women Teachers” At least in grade school and early high school. No scandals, just a married woman should not be taking a job from a man, never mind men didn’t teach grade school when and where I grew up.

    Memorable teachers…yes. Senior English teacher had a hard time staying on subject. We were suppose to learn writing skills, but after the first month or so, he never corrected them so what’s to learn? The only thing I remember him teaching us about Shakespeare is one needs “a dirty mind” to understand him.

    Favorite college prof was an Existentialist who translated much of Sartre. I had her for Humanities and very much appreciated her intellect and knowledge. My favorite moment was talking about Henry Miller when his Tropic of capricorn (or was it Cancer) was first allowed to be published in the US. One of the students whom I admired said she found Miller so “delightful.” I immediately went and found a copy for myself.

    I taught with a teacher who was sarcastic with fourth graders. I found that (find still) inappropriate for that age group. Keeping in mind I have been called on my own sarcasm…but with adults.


  10. I’ve described my elementary school teachers. My junior high teachers were marginally better. But even in high school we weren’t told our teachers had first names.

    My favorite high school teacher was a pretty woman, about 40 when she taught, with a lively laugh and a passion for good writing. She is one reason I became a writer. She was single until she got married in her mid-50s.

    Not long ago I learned from a classmate that Miss McNally had a secret life. When she was an unmarried teacher she didn’t dare date anyone in Ames, so she often drove 70 miles on weekends to Waterloo to enjoy the company of men. In those days, 70 miles was far enough to ensure anonymity. I’ve learned she made the most of her opportunities. (Weirdly enough, Waterloo was where my randy grandfather went on weekends to have dates with prostitutes in the hotel.)


  11. Just remembered my high school chemistry teacher — Mr. Peterson with his Scandinavian accent (or did I just make that up?). The only detail I remember is him calling us the “Cream of the Crud.” He called every class that.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Rise and Shine at noon, Baboons!

    I am back in the saddle after flying SW Airlines over the weekend. They were having more problems than just the computers yesterday, although that indeed was a problem. Wednesday, on our way out, we had a layover in Chicago. BOTH PLANES were delayed due to repairs. We arrived very late to Philly and no we did not feel safe. Yes, we would rather have a late plane in good repair than a broken, timely plane in the air, but it did appear to us that nothing there is in good repair. GRRR. OK, nuff of that.

    My teachers were competent and humorless. Especially the early Victorian Ladies, who actually were incompetent and irritable. Not a great experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. how the heck woulfd you get an inkling as to if something was in good repair on your plane? you would almost have to be watching them work on the plane next to you if there was going to be an indication of a problem.


  13. The high school I attended was a unique, hippie, progressive boarding school in St. Nazianz, WI called JFK Prep — named after that dear president. It was fun and VERY different from my Catholic grade school. Teachers were generally called by their first names and students had a lot of freedom. Everybody smoked in the classrooms. Mr. G Shriver, who taught European History, always called the girls “Sugar”. He particularly enjoyed telling very gory tales of how kings or noblemen were assassinated by the incoming conquest.

    Mr. M Strazanac, taught non-European history. He also directed and produced most of the plays I was in, as well as teaching me the finer points of jumping hurdles. He was a great guy — although I suspect when he moved into a living area in the back of the theater on campus (most all teachers lived on campus), it became a marijuana hangout for him and other backstage guys.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. There was a dear biology prof at Concordia, Olaf Torstveit, who spoke in a very thick Norwegian accent. “Take your sissors, and make an insission” (imagine that the “Z’ sound is said like an “S”.)

    Liked by 2 people

  15. OT: Blevins Book Club (BBC) will be held here in Robbinsdale this Sunday, the 18th at 2:00. Books are: Amy Tan’s The Hundred Secret Senses and/or Judy Blume’s Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing. If you have to choose between reading the books and bringing food or drink, you know what to do.

    Let me know if anyone needs directions:
    I realize it is hard for non-metro baboons to get here, but we have a guest room if anyone is in town who needs to sleep over. This msg. will repeat later this week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yikes, I just thought about the whole highway construction conundrum – thanks for reminder or I would have forgotten until right about the time I would have been trying to turn north onto 100!


      1. Ah, yes, the 394 stretch between Hwys. 94 and 100 is down by at least one lane. Hwy 100 is fine NORTH of 394, it’s South where all the construction is going on. Alternates to Hwy 394 include 55 and West Broadway. I’ll post or send an update later in the week.


  16. I can’t remember any elementary school teachers who were unusual. Middle school was a different story. A few teachers in that school where kind of unusual by today’s standards. After having served as a substitute teacher in a middle school I can understand how teachers of middle school kids could become a little out of kilter. Some middle school kids are capable of driving a teacher crazy.

    One of my middle school teacher had the habit of walking up behind you when you were sitting in his class and suddenly grabbing you hard by the back of your neck. Another teacher decided to pull down the pants of one of the “hoody” boys who wore his pants slung low. A gym teacher called a boy with a Polish name “cabbage head” instead of using his Polish name. The same teacher told us one of the tough guys in the school had developed the big muscles in his arms by chain smoking cigarettes.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Another great blog I hadn’t seen before. What a hoot, Donna.

    I had both male and female, married and single teachers from grade school on, even during the years at the boarding school. As I recall, most of the smart alecks were among the students. In fifth grade I had a pregnant teacher, don’t think anyone thought much about it.


  18. Just got this message from a former state senator:
    I’m sitting at Fantastic Sam’s right now trading “Mr. Birkholz” stories with the stylist, Jean Franson! Just both realized we are TH born&raised….and have great memories of Mr. B!

    Liked by 4 people

  19. “I don’t mean to scare you but my daddy says if I don’t get better grades somebody’s going to get a spanking.”

    The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large basket of apples with a note, “Take only one. God is watching.” Moving further along, at the other end of the table was a large tray of chocolate chip cookies. One child whispered to his friend, “Take all you want. God’s watching the apples.”

    Now that your funnybones are all good and tickled with these jokes I copied, let me just say, HELLOOO BAABOOONS!!! (And how the hell are ya?)

    Thanks for the email alert, Friends (you know who you are and your secret’s safe with me) of this bygone post’s encore appearance. Seeing it here is a surprise and an honor and I’m feeling very special!! And hungry. My sister just drove up and we’re heading out for a bite and our dining conversation will cover teachers from our past who were of the smart aleck persuasion. And then when we return I’ll submit a report. Unless it’s too late and I put it off until tomorrow. No, I’m kidding. It could be next week. Gotta go. Catch ya on the flip flop.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. When I withdrew fro the U of Chi, I went to the registrar’s to inform them. The office person said I had to talk to the registrar but I had to wait awhile to see him. Pretty good, huh, getting personal attention from the registrar. I told her that, no, did not want to see him. She said I had to. Interesting, isn’t. What were they going to do have me arrested. So she called into him. I was called into this beautiful old modernized office but with its gothic flourishes in place. Larger than a few classrooms I had there, which it might have once been. I wanted to talk me out of it. Wanted to know why. I told him that was the first time I had been one on one with anyone there, despite an attempt here and there to get help. I told him that to a person my teachers were poor at best and that I had two charm lecturers whose accents were so bad that most of us missed much of what they said. I was pretty quickly dismissed at that point. An astounding moment. Teach at the U was much better and more personal, despite all the cliches about the big fold U. The u of chi had and still has less than 25000 undergrads. People pay all that money for that experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Can’t think of any teachers who were true smart alecks, but one of my high school teachers, Mr. Ronning, would occasionally hazard a little wordplay in a Groucho voice, with the imaginary cigar and eyebrows bobbing up and down. He was a funny guy, in a subtle way. I wish I could remember something he said, but it was 40 years ago….

    Liked by 1 person

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