When the Teacher Isn’t Looking – Podcast Episode

This poem has a rather interesting history. After publishing my first book, The Aliens Have Landed at Our School!, my editor asked if I could write an entire collection of funny poems about school. I assured him that I could and set to work creating a new book.

When I was done writing it, he asked what I thought it should be called. My response was that I though it should be called Falling Asleep in Class, as that was one of my favorite poems from the book. He may have been concerned that people would think it was a boring book that would make readers fall asleep, and instead suggested the title When the Teacher Isn’t Looking.

I fought against this title, arguing that would make teachers think I was encouraging students to misbehave in class. I think his response was, “Oh, get over it. It’s funny!”

While my previous (and subsequent) poetry books all were named after one of the poems in the book, there was no poem in this collection called “When the Teacher Isn’t Looking.” However, there was a poem called “When the Teacher’s Back Is Turned.” So that the book title would match one of the poems in the collection, I renamed “When the Teacher’s Back Is Turned” to “When the Teacher Isn’t Looking.”

This is that poem. I hope you enjoy it!

When the Teacher Isn’t Looking

When the teacher’s back is turned,
we never scream and shout.
Never do we drop our books
and try to freak her out.

No one throws a pencil
at the ceiling of the class.
No one tries to hit the fire alarm
and break the glass.

We don’t cough in unison
and loudly clear our throats.
No one’s shooting paper wads
or passing little notes.

She must think we’re so polite.
We never make a peep.
Really, though, it’s just because
we all go right to sleep.

—Kenn Nesbitt