High school teacher Christina Pina, @christina_pina, on TikTok, posted a video series about all the little rules that, while usually standard in a school setting, she doesn’t enforce for her students.
“I do not think that caring about these things […] makes my classroom any more effective. I don’t think it makes students learn anymore,” Pina said at the start of her video.
Pina said she was inspired to make the video based on conversations between other teachers “caring about [things] that I could not care less about.”
Lose Your Pencil? Here’s Mine
“You don’t have a pencil? I have a pencil for you,” Pina said. “Take one every day; you don’t even have to ask. I have them scattered all around the room.”
“I’m not mad at you for not having a pencil,” Pina said. “It is not my job to teach you that organization; it’s my job to teach you my content.”
“I’d rather my students grab the pencil real quick and get started and actually do the work,” Pina said, rather than taking time away from class to reprimand the student. “They lost their pencil; it’s not a big deal in class. You wanna write? I’m going to give you the pencil to write.”
Pina said she knows other teachers feel differently because of her students’ reactions to losing a pencil and having to request another. “The nerves they feel when they have to ask me for a pencil. They’re all over the classroom; don’t even ask me, just grab one.”
Regarding worries that it will teach students that it’s acceptable to be disorganized, Pina disagrees. “They don’t just throw the pencils away.”
Yes, You Can Eat in My Classroom
“Bring your breakfast. Bring your lunch,” Pina said. “You cannot learn in my class; you cannot be effective in my class if you’re starving.”
Pina said that while she’d prefer that the school served more nutritious food for free student breakfasts, “I can’t win them all. Eat something, it’s better than nothing. Just don’t interrupt, don’t be loud, don’t share it, and don’t throw your chips across the room.”
Far from banning food in class, Pina says she keeps granola bars to offer to hungry students. And far from abusing the privilege, Pina says her students are respectful and that “this does not turn my classroom into a cafeteria.”
Late For Class? Who Cares
“I know this sounds insane to some people, but […] I do not care that you’re tardy,” Pina said. “I mean, I care, but I’m not going to ask you in front of the whole class why you’re late.”
Pina says that, especially for the first period, she’s just happy the students made it to class and goes out of her way to make the students feel welcome. “There’s a million reasons why [a student] could be late, and a lot of times, it’s not the students’ fault.”
“I truly believe that welcoming attitude […] instead of that kind of aggressive attitude […] I really think that makes students even try harder to get to school on time.”
Homework – Forget It
“I can’t remember the last time I assigned homework,” Pina says in a Part 2 post in response to a comment on her first video.
She says that she does not use anything in her curriculum that can only be learned through homework and that it is a “very rare occasion that I say finish this at your house.”
Pina says that this does not impact her students because “they take a picture of everything. They Google everything. None of the things that you’ve told them to do in their house have been done by [the students.] None of those things have been learned.”
Instead, Pina says she works “bell to bell.”
“My students know that when you walk in the classroom, we are learning almost until the bell rings. I’m pretty annoying. I’m using those 45 minutes.”
Here is a Charger For Your Device
“Kinda similar to the pencils,” Pina says. “A million things happened over the weekend. A million things happened between last night when school ended and today [and] you didn’t have time to charge your computer.”
Pina says that she is aware many of her students move from house to house due to family structures like step-parents, grandparents offering care, and so on.
“They spend nights at different houses. I cannot be upset that they don’t have a charge [on their] Chromebook or computer. Students are so anxious, sometimes they ask for a charger, and I will gladly give it to them.”
Pina says that if she doesn’t have a charger available, she helps the student locate one, “same thing I’d do for a teacher in a meeting who didn’t charge her Chromebook.”
“I’d rather you use your resources […] get a charger, and get to work,” Pina said, noting that without a charger, students often have to sit for the entire period pretending to have a working computer or another necessary device. By the same logic, Pina said she doesn’t care if students charge their phones in class.
“Perfect, it’s out of your hand. That’s even better for me.”
No Need to bother Your Parents With Signatures
“First of all, I don’t think students are reading our syllabi,” Pina said, noting that she feels especially strongly about this point. “Second of all, I don’t think their parents are reading, or understand or fully grasp, the syllabi that we’re sending home.”
Pina said she believes students find ways to work around getting syllabus signatures but that it doesn’t matter because the practice is “archaic.”
“There’s almost nothing that I will ever send home and say, ‘your parent or guardian needs to sign this […] for points.'” Pina said. “I was shocked to find out that this is still a practice in placement. Also, why are we giving our student’s parents homework? What if our students don’t see their parents when they get home?”
It places unnecessary stress on students and their families, Pina said, especially over something that simply is not important.
Students Can Turn in Their Work Late
At the start of Part 3, Pina calls back to Part 2 of her series, reminding viewers that while she does not assign homework, late work can still occur.
“Maybe they were absent, maybe they just weren’t feeling the work that day, maybe they just didn’t get it, […] they lost it,” Pina says. “They wanna turn it in late, they can turn it in.”
Noting that her practice is not the norm, Pina says her students are often surprised she accepts late work at all. But the per-day late penalty, usually 10% of the grade, is not something Pina believes in.
Not only does it create extra work for teachers, who have to track when the assignment was due versus when it was turned in, but it creates an environment where students have no reason to turn in work at all.
“After four days, you automatically have an F, no matter how good your work is,” Pina says. “There are natural consequences to not doing the work or being absent. I don’t need to add more consequences and lower my student’s grade.”
Wear What You Want
“I will not be enforcing a dress code in my classroom, in the hallways, […] anywhere we’re policing women’s bodies through this,” Pina said. “Not my business. If you felt comfortable, you felt safe in that outfit, wear it.”
No Make-Up Test After School Hours
“If you missed a test or a quiz and you need to make that up, I will do everything in my power to not make you come after school to do that,” Pina said. “I will find 10 minutes to 20 minutes in class so you can get it done in class.”
Pina says the policy of after-school make-up can place high demands on students. One absence, she notes, can result in having to make up seven class periods. Further, she notes that students need the time outside class for other things.
“There are a million activities that our students have to do after school. Basically, I will do anything in my power to not make you stay after school.”
Progress Not Grades
“I am not grading everything,” Pina said, adding that she thought this policy was normal until someone commented on a previous video asking how she graded a game played in class.
“I also don’t lie to my students and tell them that everything [they do in class] is graded,” Pina said.
She prefers instead to build class activities that promote learning and let students see their own progress through the activities. Rather than tying everything to a grade, Pina believes it’s better for students to develop their own sense of motivation to do the work.
Rewards For a Job Well Done
“I teach high school, and I do give out candy and incentives,” Pina said, noting that many people have strong opinions about the practice. Some teachers are really against rewards. They think they promote the wrong things, that students will only work for these incentives.”
Pina disagrees. “I think everyone, adults included, [loves] a little candy.”
However, Pina feels strongly about providing inclusive reward options, noting that candy doesn’t work for diabetic students or students fasting for religious reasons. “I always have stickers, pencils, [and] other types of incentives that you would be surprised that high school students love.”
But the incentives and rewards are not what the students are working towards, but rather an additional bonus, Pina said. “I switch it up so they know that not everything is tied to a reward. Sometimes they do get one, sometimes they don’t.”
The Series Isn’t Over
In Part 3, Pina said she would add a fourth and final part to the series in the future, covering three more things she doesn’t enforce in her classroom.
- “Deeply Offensive”: School Told Native American To Cut Long Hair And Comply With Grooming Policy
- “Pornographic” Literature Found in Middle School Library Made 11-Year-Old “Uncomfortable”
This article was produced by TPR Teaching.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.