Student Slang 102


As a follow-up to the first version, here are a few more slang words and phrases that students use throughout the school day:


jonin: This term has replaced “dissin’ / dissing” from yesteryear’s slang.


Student-to-student: “Your sneakers are dirty.”

Student reply: “I know you’re not jonin’!


dry: This term describes something or someone that’s boring.


Scenario: A student walks into a classroom to ask a teacher something. Upon entering, the student looks around and notices that everyone is working. The student may say aloud, “this classroom is dry.”


turn up: This term describes a student’s, or group of students’, intent on having a good time (rowdy).


Teacher-to-class: “Since I’ll be absent tomorrow, you’ll have a substitute.”

Random student: “Turn Up!


real live: A student uses this phrase when he or she is “serious” about something.


Scenario: A student takes something from another student without asking permission first. The student may reply, “yo, real live stop taking my $#!@.” NOTE: “live” rhymes with “five” and not “give.”


on who?: A student uses this phrase when asking someone “who do they swear their claim/statement on?”


Student-to-student: I bet you can’t beat me in a race.

Student reply: “On who I can’t beat you?”


have to see me: A student uses this phrase as a reference to fighting.


student-to-student: “If he/she don’t stop running his/her mouth, then he/she is going to have to see me.”


Once again, slang is constantly evolving. Although it changes often, it’s always a good idea to learn the terms and phrases our students use, even if it’s slang. Some terms or phrases may offer you the insight to manage a situation, before it reaches the point of conflict or confrontation.


A Teacher’s Many Hats


It’s often said, teachers wear many hats throughout the school day. As a teacher, I can certainly attest to this statement. In fact, I believe a teacher wears more hats than any other professional. To prove my point, I’ve decided to compile a list of frequently used “teacher hats” to help support my claim.

The Instructor’s Hat

By and large, the “instructor’s hat” is the most recognized and utilized. During the school day, this hat is certainly worn the most. For example, teachers wear this hat when they deliver lessons, facilitate discussions, address student misconceptions, etc. As a result, teachers definitely get a lot of mileage out of this particular hat, alone.

The Counselor’s Hat

By far, the “counselor’s hat” is the most emotionally draining hat to wear. Unlike other teacher hats, this one appears at any given moment. For example, it’s not uncommon for teachers to wear this hat when a student needs to “talk.” These moments can occur before, during, or after school. Luckily, this hat doesn’t discriminate against any day of the week, either.

The Secretarial Hat

In my opinion, this is the dullest hat in a teacher’s closet. However, it’s probably the most important one. Since a typical there are several meetings to attend during a typical school week, this hat helps teachers organize their time wisely. Remember: A disorganized teacher loses everything; an organized teacher just loses his or her mind.

The Nurse’s Hat

Although it may sound odd, a teacher, at any given moment, is a classroom nurse. Somewhere in his or her classroom, every teacher keeps a first-rate, first aid kit. A teacher deals with bumps, bruises, colds, coughs, runny noses, etc. Trust me, teachers can handle any sickness short of the bubonic plague.

The Champion’s Hat

Without a doubt, this is the most important hat to wear. I can’t honestly think of any one who can better explain “why” than the late Rita Pierson. So, I’ll let her explain it to you, as she rests in peace.


The Guardian’s Hat

This is probably the most underrated hat in a teacher’s closet. Many times, a teacher has to act as a surrogate parent/guardian for his or her students. A teacher wears this hat for a variety of reasons, such as quietly telling a student to “sit up” or reminding a student to tie his or her shoe. Although this hat appears at any given time, it frequently appears during hallway duty. A teacher often wears this hat when instructing students to “walk and not run,” which students regularly interpret to mean, “run faster!”

The Student’s Hat

Without question, this is the most ignored hat. It’s not ignored by teachers, but by non-educators. Most non-educators forget that teachers are students too. Teachers constantly seek to learn new ways to improve their craft. Although a teacher wears this hat during the week, it is often worn on the weekends. Contrary to popular belief, this hat works throughout the winter and summer “breaks,” too.

The Firefighter’s Hat

Although this hat is not as popular as the rest, it’s a necessary one. Anytime students are arguing or fighting, a teacher wears this hat to “put out the fire.” In an ideal world, this hat never sees the light of day. However, in reality, it’s necessary to wear this hat, from time-to-time. Hopefully, it never involves using a one hundred-foot ladder.

The Cop’s Hat

Like the “firefighter’s hat,” this hat is extremely important. However, unlike the “firefighter’s hat,” this one’s designed for daily use. A teacher wears this hat to protect the classroom environment, and to serve each, and every, student. Whenever a teacher spots a conduct violation in progress, he or she quickly reaches for this hat. Interestingly enough, this hat can appear in random locations, such as the grocery store or while riding on the metro train. A teacher is always on the prowl for conduct violations!

The Duh-Vinci Hat

The “Duh-Vinci hat” is used when teachers attempt to create classroom projects, decorations, gadgets, gizmos, etc. Although this hat starts off looking great, it often ends up on the floor soaked in glue, paint or non-washable markers.

The iHat

Given the tech-laden, twenty-first century world, this hat is relatively new to the teaching profession. In my opinion, a teacher can’t afford to ignore this hat. Yes, this hat comes with a lot of manuals. And, yes, it’s time-consuming to read them all. Trust me, I get it. This hat is intimidating to wear. Nonetheless, it’s a prerequisite for becoming a great twenty-first century teacher.  Plus, I hear it even has its own app!

The @Hat

Believe it or not, although this hat is easily accessible, it’s seldom worn. Most likely, this hat is often neglected because it comes with tons of accessories: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, WordPress, StumbleUpon, etc. Although the list is daunting, once a teacher masters this hat, his or her classroom walls come crumbling down!

The Teflon Hat

Hands down, this is the most difficult hat to wear, day-in and day-out. Nevertheless, it’s critical for classroom management success. The “Teflon” hat comes out when a student, parent, or worse, a colleague is insulting a teacher. It helps guard against ignorance, and it’s designed to let insults bounce right off. It has only one design flaw: The hat is mood sensitive. If it senses frustration or anger, then it dissolves rather rapidly.

The Night Cap

By far, this is the most tempting, yet damaging hat of them all. Many a teacher has fallen victim to this seductive hat. Sure, it looks appealing. But, be ever so careful. If you have too many nightcaps, then you’ll be sporting a painfully ugly hat the next day: The Hangover Hat.

Don’t drown in the education reform Sea.


Do you show up to your classroom, every single day, ready to influence the lives of your students? Do you arrive at your school building, every single day, ready to change the trajectory of your students’ lives? Do you wish to become a teacher that some student…someday…somewhere will always remember? If so, be careful not to drown in the sea of circular education reform diatribes.

Yes, I know, proponents of education reforms place too much emphasis on data. Although data is important, students are definitely more than vanity metrics. And. Yes, I know, opponents of current trends in education reform, i.e. VAMs, school choice, charter schools, etc., place too much emphasis on corporations. Although corporations are investing in education, this doesn’t mean all corporations are evil.

Such ongoing debates produce low-hanging fruit. The truth is this: our day-to-day roles and responsibilities lay within our control. We decide what’s best for our students. We decide how to introduce a lesson. We decide how to align an activity for further enrichment. We decide how to assess student mastery. We decide how to manage classroom behaviors. In other words, our classrooms are our domains.

Now, before you accuse me of “sitting on the fence,” please note that I ‘m pro-teacher, pro-student, and pro-public education. I certainly don’t blame teachers or public education for society’s ills. In my professional opinion, it takes a village to raise a child. Therefore, a “broken” child will need support that goes well beyond the traditional four walls of any classroom. With that said, as a public middle school teacher within a low socio-economic status neighborhood, I’m unapologetic for holding my colleagues accountable for student learning.

Although I don’t support VAMs, I’m not an advocate for an evaluation-free profession. In fact, I’ve recently expressed my view on the “observation gap” within education. However, the topic of teacher quality is, all-too-often, sidetracked by certain circular diatribes: the corporate “take-over” of public education and the infamous CCSS. What’s lost in such diatribes is the focus on how teachers CAN improve their craft.

We must focus less on grandiose plans, and more on improving our trade. Regardless of the current education reform landscape, we’re more than just teachers. We’re coaches, surrogate parents, mentors, social workers, counselors, cheerleaders, innovators, and fellow life-long learners. At the end of the day, no amount of corporate money or grandiose “plan to take over the world” will ever take that away from us.

As you improve your craft, remember to always keep your head above water, so you don’t drown in the sea.

Student Slang 101


Slang has been around for decades. Although it’s common among teenagers, it has evolved since my generation. As a teacher, I hear student slang throughout the entire school day. As a result, I’ve complied a short list of high frequency words and phrases used this year:


bob: Although it’s real name, in the traditional sense, it’s a generic term used to address anyone – male or female.


Student-to-student: “Come on bob, we’re gonna be late,” or “bob, let me borrow that pencil.”


guh: This term is a “verb.” It’s often used to describe “frustration or embarrassment.”


Student-to-teacher: “Do we have school next _________________?”

Teacher-to-student: “Yes.”

Student-to-student: “Ha, you(‘re) guh.”


kill: This term describes something that’s boring or too much work.


Teacher-to-class: “I want everyone to study for this Friday’s chapter ______ exam.”

Random student: “kill!” or “kill, bob!


mo: This is another generic term used to address anyone – male or female.


Student-to-student: “mo, stop tapping on your desk!” or “get out of my way, mo!”


pressed: This term describes someone who is eager for, or excited about, something.


Student-to-teacher: “Mr./Ms./Mrs. _____________ here’s my homework.”

Student-to-student: “Damn, you(‘re) pressed to turn that in.”


that’s dead: Similar to kill, this term describes something this seems boring or too much work.


Teacher-to-class: “Make sure to pick up your homework before you leave today.”

Random student: “that’s dead!”


thought it wa(s): This phrase, via Chief Keef, is a “comeback line” to anyone who expects an outcome.


Teacher-to-student: “_________________ I need you to take off that headband.”

Student-to-teacher: “you thought it wa(s).”


wellin’: This term is like “pressed.” It’s used to describe someone who is expecting an outcome.


Teacher-to-student: “_________________, it’s against school policy to have a cellphone in school.”

Student-to-teacher: “Ya teachers be wellin’.”


ya doin’ too much: Students often use this phrase.


Teacher: “________________, I need you to turn to page ______.”

Student: “Ya teachers be doin’ too much!”


Although this list of words or phrases isn’t exhaustive, it represents the most commonly used terms. In fact, not a single day goes by without hearing any, or all, of these words or phrases. A lot has changed since I was in middle school, but slang definitely tops the list. It goes to show, as people – and generations – evolve, so too does the use of slang.

High turnover rates in high-poverty schools? Here’s the proof.


For the life of me, I don’t know why education “experts” ignore the role of working conditions at high-poverty DC public schools. According to the data, high-poverty DC public schools lose almost one-third of its teaching staff. How’s that a sustainable model? As a teacher who works within such a DC public school, I’ve offered four reasons why this turnover rate is so high. But, is anyone listening?