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"How to Torture Your Students" Poetry Theater

A poem in nine voices


Adapted from the poem by Jane Pomazal and Bruce Lansky in If Kids Ruled the School, published by Meadowbrook Press.

Summary: Advice for a teacher looking to torment students.

Presentation Suggestions: Have the students read or perform the poem in front of the class. Have the students act out the different lines while they read them. The poem can be read with nine teachers as shown below or with three teachers, each reading three stanzas. .

Props: Chairs or desks and a chalkboard would be great props. If these are not available the poem can be performed without props

Delivery: The lines of the poem need to be read with poetic rhythm. For more information on poetic rhythm and how to perform poetry in classroom, please read the Performing Poetry section under the Teacher’s Resources.


Teacher 1
Teacher 2
Teacher 3
Teacher 4
Teacher 5
Teacher 6
Teacher 7
Teacher 8
Teacher 9

How to Torture Your Students

Teacher 1:

Start each day with a surprise quiz.
Don’t dismiss the class for recess
until you’ve finished the lesson
you’re working on.
At the end of the day, hand out a huge
assignment that’s due the next day.

Teacher 2:

When a student says, “I have to go to
the bathroom,” say, “You should have
gone this morning before you left
home” or “You’ll have to hold it in;
it’s time for the kindergarten to use
the bathrooms.”

Teacher 3:

Never call on students who have
their hands up.
Only call on students who have
no idea what’s going on.

Teacher 4:

When a student asks you a question,
say, “Look up the answer in a book.”
Don’t bother to mention the name
of the book in which the answer
can be found.

Teacher 5:

When you read, go as fast as you can.
Skip a line or two, then ask questions
about the passage to see if the
students were listening.

Teacher 6:

When it’s time for the students to
read, call on someone who doesn’t
have a book.

Teacher 7:

When you hand out pencils, make sure
they’re dull and don’t have erasers.
When you hand out books, make
sure they’re torn and tattered.

Teacher 8:

When preparing the students for
a test, write all the information
they’ll need to know on the board.
Then stand in front of the board so
they can’t see what you’ve written.
As soon as you’ve finished discussing
the test information, turn quickly and
erase the board.

Teacher 9:

On the last day of school, hand
out a surprise final exam.
Tell your students if they flunk it, they’ll
have to attend summer school—and
if they flunk summer school, they’ll
have to repeat the grade.
Tell them you hope they all flunk
because you like them so much and
you wish they could be your students
again next year.

The End

© 2004 by Jane Pomazal and Bruce Lansky. Adapted from the poem in If Kids Ruled the School, published by Meadowbrook Press. This classroom theater play version of “How to Torture Your Students” is © 2005 by Meadowbrook Press.


Click the cover for more information or to buy the book.

  Permission is given for individual school classes to perform this play and to make as many copies of the play as are needed for the students' use. All other reproduction and performance is prohibited under penalty of law. For use of this play outside individual classes, please contact for permission.  


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If Kids Ruled the School
No More Homework No More Tests
Miles of Smiles
My Dog Ate My Homework
If Pigs Could Fly...
The Aliens Have Landed
When the Teacher Isn't Looking
A Bad Case of the Giggles
Peter Peter Pizza Eater
Oh My Darling Porcupine
My Teacher's in Detention