10 Bad Signs for Good Teachers...

Teachers are trained to watch for signs: signs that the students are learning something, that the students aren't learning anything, that the students are onto something, that the students are up to something. There are some signs that teachers have not been taught to watch for: signs that could spell disaster. Here is a list of 10 such bad signs - if you happen to see one of them, beware! 

1. The principal smiles at you. This is a very bad sign. It means the principal is up to something, and that something somehow involves you. It could mean the principal is about to ask you to volunteer to be the new coach for the girls' soccer team, or to write his two-hour speech for the Mothers' Club, or to accept three new students from the local home for delinquent children. If the principal not only smiles but asks, "How are you doing?" that's even worse. And if he or she then adds, "Could I please see you in my office for a minute at your convenience?" - run for your life! 

2. Things are going well for you in the classroom. Many inexperienced teachers take this for a good sign, but more seasoned educators know it means things are going to go bad for you-very bad and very soon. Maybe you are about to change to another class, or smitten by a rare tropical disease, or your classroom is about to be invaded by a herd of wild plastic-eating termites. I know several teachers who believe in this bad omen so firmly that they have peace only when things are going horribly in the classroom. 

3. Your classroom is completely equipped with audio-visual aids. If you walk into your room and see a record player, an overhead projector, a tape recorder, and a movie projector-that's bad. It's a sure sign that none work-because if they did, they would have been "borrowed" long before this. Just in case you test the equipment and discover that everything does work (you realize, of course, that the chances of this happening are one in a million), that's still a bad sign. It means that you have just been put in charge of maintaining all the audio-visual equipment for the entire school. 

4. Your students tell you that you're their favorite teacher. If this happens, brace yourself. It means the kids want something. That something could be something relatively small: "Let's not talk about colons and semicolons today. Let's talk about football." Or your students could be bargaining for something bigger: "Let's not have any homework this year, okay?" 

5. You are prepared for all your classes for the coming week. Any teacher who does this is only asking for trouble. You cannot tempt Fate so blatantly without expecting dire consequences. And what could some of those consequences be? Maybe you will be struck with the five-day flu on Sunday evening, or there will be a battery of psychological tests this entire week. 

6. You have all your report cards finished a day ahead of schedule.This sign, closely related to #5, simply means that the administration has just introduced a new kind of report card, and the old kind (127 of which you have just finished filling out) is now obsolete. 

7. Your students do poorly on your test. This is a bad sign- or at least the administration interprets it as a bad sign-which makes it so for you. It means you are an incompetent teacher who ought to be booted out of the classroom as soon as possible. If your students do poorly on a test sh-h-h!-don't tell anyone, not even your students. Destroy the tests, give a retest, and hope and pray that the kids do better-but not too much better. (See the next sign.) 

8. Your students do very well on your test. This too is a bad sign. in fact, it's a worse sign than #7. It can only mean one of three things: 1) the test was too easy, 2) you are a stupid teacher, 3) the kids cheated. 

9. You have a few free minutes to yourself after school. If this happens, one of the following events is bound to occur: 1) another teacher will report you to the principal for not having enough to do, 2) some kid will come in and ask if he or she could talk to you for a minute and stay 2 hours, 3) the principal will ask if you could give the janitor a hand with cleaning the bathrooms after school. 

10. You receive positive feedback from a parent. Although this sign rarely occurs, it portends trouble. You can be sure that if one parent is praising you, another one is already initiating legal proceedings to have you removed from the classroom. When all is said and done, it's a better sign to receive no parental feedback than any kind at all