So Johnny is in the back, yawning and not paying attention to your instruction. Johnny has been here before, and you’ve just chalked it up to “we can’t reach everybody.” As that may be true sometimes, we need to make certain that we’ve attempted all forms of assistance to help Johnny reach his potential in your class.

Some students show lack of interest because of our subject area, our teaching approach, something happened at home this morning; it may be so many things that we may not be privy to.

These 4 problems may give some insight into those students [and Johnny’s lack of energy and seemingly nonchalant, rebellious attitude] in your class, during your lesson. Let’s check ’em out!

NERVOUS student in a library

Because school can be intimidating to some students, they may show resistance to you and your task: teaching them your lesson. It may have nothing to do with your content or you personally; it’s just the whole concept of going to a place that reinforces what they already know – nothing about learning.

Students may fear — and therefore not like school — because of their past interactions with school and education. Maybe they did not learn the foundations, so now they are intimidated and embarrassed.

Here’s how to navigate this:

  1. Try to understand the student: Find out about his/her past. Ask them. For example: this year, I was given a class half way through the year…like in February. I mean…seriously? With that said, I know they hadn’t had a teacher all year, so my expectations were different for that class. I had to do things differently because I knew their past.
  2. Your responses and behaviors: Some students may not respond to the teacher at the chalkboard lectures. Some students may not respond to the teacher giving them treats without them earning it. Some students may not respond to shouting or ridicule. Get to know your students.
  3. Sit with versus standing over your students: Be more conversational rather than instructional. Talk to your students and not at your students. Now, this does not mean that you won’t be stern and “use your teacher voice” at times, but just navigate the space in a way that your students know that your instruction is only to help them, not only to chastise them.
  4. De-emphasize “FORMAL” lesson/education: Yes, I know you have to teach the standards and it seems you’re evaluated daily, but sometimes showing students the “cool” side or “fun” part of your lesson will help them learn more. Making jokes, showing you care about them, more than your content, goes a long way to helping them connect with you.


Student being bullied because of things other students have heard

We all know all students are not coming to the table with the same opportunities and backgrounds. Even if they grow up in the same neighborhoods, family situations, financial circumstances, and other problems may persist.

Here are some things you can do, if you discover something about your students.

a. Refer the student to services: Some schools and districts have multiple services for students with problems, whether they be financial, abusive, emotional, and more. Reach out to others who are experts, either in the building or not. In some districts, it is your responsibility contractually. If it isn’t and you contact these services for your student, they may appreciate it.

b. Try to help out if you can: I keep bath soap, deodorant, candy, and snacks in my closet at work becuase I know some of my students do not have these things at home. I know that at some time during the day, a student will need a Granola bar or a Honey Bun for nourishment to get them through their next class. See if there is something you can offer that doens’t cross any lines or inconvenieces you, but helps your student attmept to do more or better in your classroom.

c. Make it a Class Assignment: Because you don’t want to make everyone aware of a student’s distressing home life or problem, make it a class assignment and speak in general terms. Everyone has to work on it, and the student you are trying to reach will realize that this is how they can work through their issue – nobody else has to know.

d. Work with them: I’ve had several students who have parttime jobs because they need to help out at home financially. When I am made aware of this, I offer to extend due dates for them; only do 2 questions, instead of all 4; I extend my office hours (maybe an hour or so) if they have questions on an assignment. I realize that every student’s household is different and they’re trying to survive, so I’m there for it!

e. Be THAT person for them: Yes, sometimes it gets overwhleming to have students coming to you to get things off their chest or to just sit with you during lunch, but You my be THAT person for them. They understand that what is said here, stays here (within reason and the law), and that regardless of what’s going on at school or home, they have a champion on their side. Like Rita Pierson says, “Every student needs a Champion!” Are you THAT person?


Some students find it hard to brainstorm and plan for their future, even as seniors in high school

Setting goals — long or short — may be problematic for students, so they freeze up and do nothing. So while they know they need English, Social Studies, or Calculus to graduate, because they cannot see where this will take them or how it will impact their future, they do nothing.

Get with your students and help them make a plan. What is going through their minds as it pertains to their futures? Make a supplemental lesson or assignment if you have to.

I relegate anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks of Life After High School lessons for my students because I’ve seen the nervousness and glossy looks every time I mention graduation and what happens afterward.

Help your students find their future. Even if their plans change, at least someone has helped them navigate to this point.

Heck! Adults are still figuring it all out! At least these students would now have a plan of action.


Student embarrassed at not knowing something

Of course, every student who comes into your room will not remember what they should, do what they should, or even have the skill set to do what they should, but that’s ok.

With the embarrassment, comes the opportunity for you to appeal to their softer side and help them out.

When the student is showing lack of interest in your class lesson because they cannot keep up or they don’t understand what’s going on, talk to them and let them know that they’ll get it eventually, seek assistance from administration or an interventionist, pair them up, group them, sit with them and assist during a lesson. Welcome them into your space, so that they know that they have a chance to catch up and learn at their pace.

So next time, Johnny asks to go to the restroom for the 11th-hundredth time because he has no interest in your lesson, approach the situation from any of these points of view. Johnny may come around and be that exceptional student you know he can be.

Hey, check out this video or products for help.

education, Positive TidBits


Surprise, celebration and happiness for teachers, parents and guardians as we step into FEBRUARY! IT’S TIME FOR FREE STUFF!

Hey Angry Teacher Fam,

As we come to the end of FEBRUARY the month of BLACK HEROES and LOVE, it is now the month of THE ANGRY TEACHER STORE FREEBIES! PICK UP A FREEBIE [OR MORE] TODAY!

I know times are rough for teachers and parents or guardians everywhere, so I wanted to remind each of you that you can still educate and reach your little student in our uncertain society; I’m looking out for you!

Here are some FREE Products and Teaching tools to use all this month. You are appreciated! (**Also don’t forget the value of my Youtube channel tips, tricks, entertainment, and ideas for you, your little student, and your classroom; I really want to see you thrive!)


I’m glad you were able to find something that you deserve! You need to be celebrated as you teach and reach young minds. This may not be a whole lot, but it’s something I felt I had to bring to your attention; we are all in this together!

Enjoy, Angry Teacher Family!


New Year Resolutions Classroom Activities

So we’re back at it, educators! The snow has lost its luster, the Figgie pudding is back in the freezer for next year, the gift wrap paper is stored away again, and the gifts have been return – yes, we are now getting back into work mode.

I sit and look through my window, just before planning for my dreaded return to work and a new grading period, “What do I teach?” “Where did we leave off?” “Did I return all me emails?” “What New Year Resolutions can I come up with for me and my students?” “what new year class activities can I use?”

So many questions, so little time left in my holiday break.

With that said, during this new year return to work, I think of the things I need my students to know, along with the content I’m supposed to cover. We only have a short time left (with testing and events) that we interact with our students.

This time of year is weird, as I teach seniors of different levels and one sophomore class. I know I have to cover the timeline of literature like the Romantics and Victorians all the way through Modernism, but I also have to cover a whole lot of real-life tasks like writing college essays, writing research papers, completing applications, writing and sending letters (including emails), getting students to remember how to write journals, etc.

So I start the year off with students revisiting their goal-setting that they did in the beginning of the year, and we work towards students completing these goals. We revisit what success looks like and how they can make sure that for the rest of the year and beyond, they are successful.

As my students work through these soft skills, we work on some content and some real-life tasks that enable them to survive beyond high school. As I mentioned before, I teach Seniors (for the most part), and high school will end real soon.

Here are some of the things I use with my students at the beginning of their new year:

I mix and match and get students to feel like they have something to do (because they do), but it also gives them a fun way to share their academics with their excitement for the last part of the year.

Try some of these out and let me know.

What do you do in the beginning of a new calendar year with your students?

education, Positive TidBits

La Vida Loca: Celebrating Hispanic American Heritage Month

Hispanic heritage month is here and in my classroom!

So I was reading a poem with my students about a poet’s crazy aunt – how she did her own thing, how she didn’t let others’ opinions of her stop her from being herself, how the speaker didn’t like her at first, but changed his perspective of his zany aunt, and that’s when our class discussions got really crazy!

Some of the things we hear as teachers are CRAZY!

As you know with kids, there is no or not much of a filter. Kids started telling me some crazy stuff about their families and, specifically, their aunties. Yikes!

“It’s true, Mr. Williams. My auntie Celia walks around in a bathing suit 24/7.” “My aunt believes she’s still in the 50s. I mean really.” “Mr. Williams, my aunt don’t talk to my family no more over a chicken bone. Nobody wants to tell me the story.” “Mr. Williams, my auntie in jail. She was doing fraud.” “Mister, my auntie makes the best sweet potato Pies ever.” “I have an aunt who still treats me like I’m 5. She still pinches my cheeks. I’m like lady…if you don’t…then my dad would gimme that look.” “Mr. Williams, remember my auntie who came to Open House? She want your number.”

These were actual words from my students once we read Luis Rodriguez’ “Tia Chucha.” My 11th Graders eat it up every year. I’m telling you; every year, I get nervous, but downlow excited about teaching this poem, as our discussion lead us down this crazy, loopy rabbit-hole of funny conversations.

This just makes me proud to be able to teach something with such great soul and richness. Rodriguez allows his readers (my students) to recount their times with their aunts and families, or to revisit their heritage, not matter where they’re from, or at least learn about others’ families and cultures. I make sure the conversations are safe, respectful, and healthy.

Group of diverse friends taking a selfie because that’s what our world needs.

Teaching these rich pieces excites me because students get to talk about what they’re experts in in – themselves and their families.

I wholeheartedly support any month that positively celebrates another culture or heritage without putting another one down or disparaging any because that’s what the world needs, understanding and acceptance, right now.

From September 15 – October 15, I try to include as many of these works with my students as possible, and you know what? I even sprinkle them in during the rest of the year as well, regardless of what the curriculum asks for.

As citizens of the world, I believe students need to know about each other, where they come from, where they’re going, and more importantly about themselves.

Here are some of the works that get me to accomplish the above goals per year.

education, Positive TidBits


So I was walking into a store and a young man held the door for me. “Thank you, sir” I said, as I walked in.

I was left a few minutes on the dryer at the laundromat the other day. “Thank you so much,” I told the lady who offered me her unused minutes in the dryer.

As I was allowed in the left lane infront of another driver, I put my hand outside the window and put a THUMBS UP for him to know I appreciated him.

Happy excited thankful guy. Joyful young man raising arms and looking up. Praying and success concept

I never realized how grateful I am.

I guess growing up and instructed to be kind, cordial, and grateful was just expected. After coming from little to nothing, I understand what it’s like to show respect to the universe when something is given to you, even if it is just a gesture or a few minutes in a dryer.

I am always grateful for life, love, and family that I whisper a prayer every morning

I am always grateful for life, love, and family that I whisper a prayer every morning when I go to the gym. I’m grateful for being able to go to the gym, my family, my job, my students, my pets, the weather, my truck, the stray animals that made it another day, my breakfast, the homeless man who found something to eat, my friends, my life, in general. Why?

Because others may not have it, may not get up, may not be able to drive, find food, feed their pets…there are so many without; I never want to forget that. So my “Thank You’s” are genuine. Coming from a real place of appreciation because you never had to do anything for me.

With that said, even sometimes when people try to intimidate or hurt you and you survive it. Be grateful for that too. I remember reading Langston Hughes’ “Thank You, Ma’am” when the teenaged boy named Roger got beatdown by Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones.

Yes, buddy got his butt whopped, a beatdown, on the sidewalk, in public! It was awesome! Lol…but I digress.

But, after that incident, when Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones took him in and fed him. When he left that night he said “Thank you, ma’am.” He could have been in his feelings and hated the woman and not realize that he’d learned a lot about life and himself that day, but Roger realized he was taught life lessons through his seeming adversary.

So I want to thank those who tried to hurt me and my feelings or tried to stand in my way of personal, social, financial, or professional success because you’ve made me stronger and you’ve taught me about myself and life.

So “Thank You, sir.” “Thank you, buddy.” “Thank YoU, Ma’am.”

Be grateful over a few things. Be grateful over the little things.

Be grateful always.

Success! You're on the list.


[new students in high school]


Yes, Indeed! August is around the corner and schools everywhere (well, away from those districts that open after Labor Day in the USA), will be teeming with eager minds, flustered spirits, nervous laughter, gracious smiles, and roving hearts.

Students will flock back to the buildings they left a couple of months ago for the summer; now, they’ll be converging on the steps of school buildings everywhere, unless they’re new to the building…Like FRESHMEN.

These fresh new eyes, hearts, and minds will be nervously and excitedly exploring campuses and searching for their classes and themselves on a high school campus as the newbies. The little fish in a big pond.

Nervous Freshman student

Some will fit in right away, some will lose their middle school persona and others will remain how they were in middle school.

Regardless of how they come into their freshman year, their teachers must help them navigate it.

One of my girls tagged me in a Facebook post last week about a project I gave her when she was in high school (she has now graduated from college for about 11 years now); she claims this project is what helped her define who she is and what she wanted to accomplish – she thanked me for the project.

Stories, students, and wanting my freshman class to survive high school prompted me to develop this project that I gave to my Freshman Seminar or Freshman Experience classes –

I tried to have students [my little people, as I affectionately called them] be able to navigate high school from a fledgling point of view from their new attitudes towards school, grade point averages, friendships, sports, clubs, teachers, assignments, conflict, home life, and more. Because, let’s face it, First Year for students can be hard.

They must navigate a new building, new resources, new friendships, new schedules, new distances, new dynamics, new classes, and new feelings and emotions as well. Really tough stuff.

Some school districts have realized that students need help to move through this new part of their lives, and have developed Freshman Seminar/Experience classes. Kudos to them!

Success! You're on the list.

If we can remember how hard this year was for us, then it would be easy to help these students understand how high school works. It would be so calming for their socio-emotional well-being.

So teachers: smile graciously at these newbies meandering the hallways, offer assistance, understand that this is the generation coming in attached to their cell phones, remember that they are the Pandemic (stay at home for a year) generation, understand that they will need that friendly face and space daily. Remember they was the little ones who set tone for the next four years.

Gotta love Freshmen!

Oh, and if you’re one of the previously mentioned teachers tasked with teaching these wonderful new additions to your high school, check out the following products to help you get on your way to a successful academic year!


50 Journal Writing Prompts