Friday, January 10, 2020

Wonderful Winter Writers Series: Guest Post By Stephanie Jankowski

I'm so excited to feature my friend and author Stephanie Jankowski on the blog today with a sample chapter from her new book, Schooled. Several of my adult children are teachers, so I can relate to many of the funny stories in this delightful book. I've known Stephanie for quite some time now and have always enjoyed her hilarious blog "When Crazy Meets Exhaustion." She is such a talented writer and I'm just thrilled to share a portion of her book with you today!


In this collection of hilariously frank essays, high school English instructor and popular parenting blogger Stephanie Jankowski throws open the classroom door to the victories, challenges and WTF-moments of today's teachers.
Laugh and commiserate with Steph’s no-holds-barred commentary on lighthearted subjects such as being mistaken for a high schooler as a first-year teacher, accidentally saying the “c-word” at a school-wide assembly, and navigating tricky student questions like “Are Trojan condoms named after those soldiers in the Odyssey?”. You’ll nod along as she tackles more serious topics like race and education, the death of a student, and teaching with empathy.
Anyone with a pulse will enjoy this book, but it should be required reading for every passionate, dedicated educator who’s felt like banging their head against the blackboard. Schooled shouts: “I see you, fellow teacher…and you’re not alone.”


When You’re a 22-Year-Old Teacher and Your Students Are 18

Hall Duty, 2004. 

Because my colleague had to cover another class, I was canvassing the halls solo that day. It was eerily quiet, the usual suspects nowhere to be found. I’d grown accustomed to multiple trips around the building—front to back, up and down the steps—and learned that changing into comfortable sneakers was a necessity. Heels stashed under my desk back in the classroom, I was business on top and Nike runners on the bottom as I walked the halls of our high school that day.

In retrospect, it made sense: a young-looking female, tennis shoes, hair pulled back in a low ponytail. I should’ve seen it coming.

Rather, I should’ve seen her coming.

Passing the copy center, I continued down the long empty corridor, removed from the steady lineup of classroom doors. As I rounded the corner leading to the gym’s back entrance, the most remote part of the building, I heard a quick shuffling behind me. She grabbed me by the arm just above the elbow, spinning me around to face her. Stunned, I couldn’t find words; there was no time. Her hot breath flooded my face, our noses mere inches apart. “What do you think you’re doing? Get back to class!”

Sighing loudly, I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, hi. Barbara? We’ve been through this. I work here. I’m a first-year teacher.”

This was the eleventeenth time our school nurse had intercepted me in the hall with accusations of cutting class. I’d run out of fucks somewhere around our third confrontation. 

Barbara released her death grip and took a few steps back, studying me. Her eyes widened in surprised amusement to find me on the receiving end of her mistake once again. “I just keep thinking you’re one of the students!” I fought the urge to roundhouse her. This level of stupidity was ridiculous. Not to mention the fact that she put her hands on me—again. She’s lucky I wasn’t one of the students, because I’d seen enough of them throw down with one another in those very hallways and one even try to fight our principal. Either our nurse was unaware of her handsy repercussions or she just didn’t care. I was leaning toward the latter. 

So many bizarre and blatantly inappropriate things happened during my first year of teaching, most of them simply because I was a young woman. Beginning a career at the age of 22 is a daunting task for anyone, but when your subordinates are only a couple years younger, and when those subordinates are actually juniors and seniors in your English class, situation and circumstance are complicated in a way I never learned about in college.

Like the day my students were working in pods. To accommodate the desks, I had to move a cluster of them close to the door. The move was against my better judgment, as I was all too familiar with the risks of desk-to-door proximity. No teacher in America can compete with the temptation that is The Hallway. I’ve seen students break their necks for just a quick peek into the enticing abyss outside the classroom. Voices, footsteps, the bang of a locker—teachers don’t stand a chance. And if someone knocks on the door? Mayhem. 

Unfortunately, I had no choice that day; the pods were a necessary evil. I ran interference as best I could by physically standing between the students and the door, but because it was approximately 105°F that September, the door and windows had to remain open if there was any chance of survival.
P.S. Ms. DeVos, please do something useful like equipping schools all over America with air-conditioning. Or resigning. Thank you.

Moving on.

One of the usual hall wanderers was in full effect that day. I didn’t realize it, but he was lingering just outside my classroom and any time I stood in front of the door, specifically when I bent over a desk to help students, this young man was . . . how do I put this delicately?

He simulated . . . no.

He pretended to . . . not quite right.

He . . . okay, fine. I’m just gonna say it.

He air-humped me. And I was completely oblivious, chatting up students about the author’s purpose in the text. Not until one of my female students quietly motioned toward the door did I ...... ***WANT TO READ MORE? BUY THE BOOK HERE


English teacher by trade, smack talker by nature, Stephanie Jankowski subscribes to the mantra, “Life is too short, laugh!” She finds the funny in everyday life on her blog,, and in education on sites like We Are Teachers and Hey, Teach. Steph lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband and their three children. Schooled is her first book and writing it gave her the nervous poops.


  1. Oh, this is good! I'm not a teacher and my kids are adults now, but I STILL want to read the rest of this.

  2. Replies
    1. Isn't she funny? Order the book for more humorous stories!

  3. Yes, the trials and tribulations of a young teacher/prof...It's why I was thirty for oh, so, many years...

  4. She's hilarious. This excerpt is riveting. I have a friend who just switched from teaching in Elementary school to Secondary. She could relate to this book, I'm sure. Birthday gift for her, I think. Thanks for sharing Stephanie's book and author info, Marcia!

  5. Sounds like a fun book! I added it to my TBR list. I did my part in being a pain in the ass when I was young, so I could only imagine how students are now. Best of luck to Stephanie!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...