Don’t make me use my teacher voice: An Indy teacher shares a poem on talking to students, parents

A woman wearing all blue speaks into a microphone while two people sit against the back wall.
Nicole Cooper shares a story during Don't Make Me Use My Teacher Voice, A Teacher Story Slam, presented by Teachers Lounge Indy in collaboration with Chalkbeat Indiana and Indy Kids Winning. The event took place on Friday, Nov. 16, 2023, at Ash and Elm Cider Co. in Indianapolis. (Elaine Cromie/Chalkbeat)

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“Sit down. No milling around.”

“Stop touching her, leave him alone.”

Those are some of the things you might hear Harshman Middle School English teacher Nicole Cooper say in her “teacher voice.”

But it’s not just students who might be on the receiving end of the voice.

Cooper will use it with administrators, parents, and everyone in between, as she shared in a poem during the Teachers Lounge Story Slam on Nov. 16, co-hosted by Chalkbeat Indiana and Indy Kids Winning. After all, what else would you expect from an English teacher?

Read an excerpt from Cooper’s poem below:

“Clear the halls and get to class. No, baby, I don’t know what we did in class yesterday — that was yesterday. Okay? Did you even check Schoology? I mean, you ask three times a week.

You know what? Don’t make me use my teacher voice.

You all should have your materials. No, I don’t have any pencils for you. Is my name Wal-Mart? Do I look like Target?

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You know what? Please, please y’all. Don’t make me use my teacher voice.”

Watch the full video below:

Aleksandra Appleton covers Indiana education policy and writes about K-12 schools across the state. Contact her at

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