Seventh graders “communicate” mostly in three-word phrases. If the phrase isn’t really only three words long, they can usually pare it down.

“What’d I miss?” It sounds like  “Wuddeyemiss.” And it always comes right as you’re starting class. Raise your hand if you have had this happen in the past week. Past three days? Today? AAAAAARGH.  They want 54 stellar, well-planned and executed minutes of instruction summarized for them in 30 seconds as the class bustles in.  What did you miss?

“Absolutely nothing. You might as well take the rest of the year off. CHECK THE WEB PAGE! COME BACK AT BREAK!”

“Oh yeah. I forgot.”

LOL (These days, they’re getting it down to three-letter phrases.)

“What’s my grade?” This one is usually from the kid whose grade is in the bottom 15% , and s/he finally turned something in, and wants immediate gratification. And it always happens right in the middle of something else, something totally unrelated.  Yesterday we were talking about how Charlotte is finally seeing Captain Jaggery for what he really is.

(Aside: If you haven’t read The True Adventures of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, I

This isn't the pic on the back of the book, but it's close enough.
This isn't the pic on the back of the book, but it's close enough.

highly recommend it. I picked it up a few years ago when I was looking for novels with strong female characters. The kids love it. It’s kind of ironic that The Outsiders has a male protagonist and a female author, and Charlotte Doyle has a female protagonist and a male author. Although, a lot of the kids looked at Avi’s picture on the  back of our version of Charlotte, without reading the copy next to it…and thought he was a woman! They were all shocked when I pointed out that the bio blurb kept using the pronoun he. “That’s  a MAN!?”)

Anyway, we’re talking about the novel, and Milk strikes again. He’s been holding his arm aloft for a couple of minutes, and he’s drifting in space when I finally call on him. He’s a little surprised, and has to remember what he was going to ask.

“What’s my grade?”


“Well it’s been kinda bad lately, and this class is my only bad grade – no offense, I love this class, we’re solid, right mrC? True that. Anyway, so what did I get on my Tom Sawyer project? Will it raise my grade? What’s my grade?”

I finally have to point to the Quiet Stick to stop the flow.

“When were we talking about your grade? Does Captain Jaggery have something to do with your grade?”


“It’s not fair!” The all-time classic. ANYTHING they don’t like isn’t fair. A sampling from just this week:
It’s not fair… that Howie is so smart…that 11/13 on a pretest isn’t good enough to be exempt from the test…that spring break is so late this year…that I don’t give out rewards (candy or otherwise)…that we didn’t use the clickers on Tuesday…that the Raffle King said no…that the choir gets to go to Disneyland…that I won’t accept the vocabulary homework that was due two weeks ago…that someone else got a blue slip to the counselor…that third period got a 10 from the sub…that second period has Tomas in their class…

“This is boring.” A very close second to the above. Often used in tandem with, as in, “This is boring. It’s so unfair that we have to do it.” As in Tom Sawyer, anything they have to do is boring. If I made text messaging homework, I swear it would be called boring within a week.