Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday's Memory: The One With Fire On My Board

See this girl?

Young, skinny, cute haircut...

I was her once.

She was also a baby teacher (although the highest compliment she may have ever received from her co-workers was that she came in a veteran teacher).
She loved her job passionately, and dreamed that all her students would succeed.
And sometimes they succeeded in driving her absolutely mad.

One class in particular that first year was dubbed "the class from hell". We, as teachers, have one of those every few years, more frequently if we are blessed to be in inner city or metropolitan areas. And mine was my 6th period 6th grade choir. To add insult to injury, I also had to oversee this class's dismissal procedure so I was given approximately 15 extra minutes with them every day.

Lucky me.

One afternoon as I was standing at my door one of those students came to me. She was among the last to be dismissed, and quite frankly I was ready for her bus to be called so that I could just get some peace and quiet! This was not to be had for a few moments though. The following conversation ensued:

Student: (tentatively)
"Miss B? Um...someone said something really mean about you."

Me: (trying not to show that I really have no interest in this topic of conversation...after all if I'm worried about what a 6th grader is going to say about me I've got bigger problems anyway.)
"Oh yeah?"

Student: "Yeah, they did." (pauses, looking down. then brightens as she says) "I can't tell you who it was but I can tell you what they said!"

Me: (stifling a yawn and resisting the urge to check down the hall to see if anyone had let students go for late bus line-up yet)

Student: (with exaggerated pauses)
"Well, she SAID...'If she's teaching our class...then who's running Hell?"

Me: (trying oh-so-hard not to burst out laughing)

Intercom: (calls students on her bus)

Me: (running down the hall to the other teachers in the 8th grade wing)
"You guys are gonna LOVE this!"

Now, after telling the story most people probably would have thought little of it.
However, I have a little sadistic streak.
(after all, I did teach middle school)

You see, I knew exactly who had said it (not hard to narrow down as she was the chief troublemaker in the class) and I knew I could make her squirm.

So the next day in the 8th grade reading class I was teaching (don't get me started on how I was given that class and a 7th grade one as an afterthought and had to figure out how in the world to teach reading when I was still trying to figure out how to teach music! and especially don't get me started on how I loved teaching those 2 classes so much that I'm still considering getting a Master's in Language Arts just so I can do it all day...)

Anyway, in the 8th grade reading class I was teaching I approached the boy who always sat in the corner doodling and consequently had about 3 grades out of the 10 he needed. And I said

"Manuel, how would you like to get full credit for xxx assignment even though you didn't turn it in?"

Naturally, he was intrigued. And asked how that was possible.

"Can you draw fire?
"Sure Ms. B"
"Can you draw it on my board?"
"All right. Take the whole period if you like. Fill it up."

This did raise a lot of questions as I tried to teach class and he cheerfully drew flames on the board behind me. So at the end of the period I let the 8th graders in on the joke. They apparently are as sadistic as I am and thought it a wonderful plan.

My 6th graders came in the door as the reading class exited and we began business as usual. Funny looks exchanged all around, but no one dared open their mouth about it.

We went through warm-ups and had even sang a song before a brave soul finally raised her hand. (which was an accomplishment in and of itself with this particular class, believe me!)

"Um, Ms. B? Why is on your board?"

Without missing a beat, I simply replied

"Oh that? Well, I thought I'd multi-task today and do both my jobs at once."

As the culprit sank in her seat with cheeks as red as the flames on the board, we continued on singing. Most of the students didn't understand what I had said, but I only needed her to. I didn't have to yell, pull her aside, or embarrass her at all to get my point across. It just took a little creativity. And you know what? She didn't give me any trouble for the rest of the year.

Guess that young teacher wasn't so naive after all.



Krimmyk said...

That is the best story I may have read...ever!

Brooke said...

you are awesome.

the end :)

yonca said...

Great story! I really enjoyed to read every sentence..Thanks Lora,
Have a great week!

Anonymous said...

That's awesome! :)

Aleta said...

What a fantastic story! Love it, absolutely love it! Great that you got the other class in on it and you got the message across without having to raise all sorts of hell. LMAO!

HappyascanB said...

Go Girl! That is awesome!!! And I'd bet my bottom dollar it was lesson learned by that difficult student ~ one she'll never forget!!!

Paige said...

Love it! What a hilarious and ingenious way to deal with a problem student!! I grew up with a teacher-mom, and that's still one of the best "teaching" stories I've ever heard!

strokeofliving said...

Thanks for visiting my post today.

Katy and Ross said...

That is hilarious!


I love the title of your blog. :-)

Bethany said...

Oh that is awesome. I've become known as one of the "harder" teachers at school and that's fine with me ;)

Rachel Cotterill said...

And that's why I would be hopeless as a teacher... I would just have no way of dealing with anyone who didn't want to be there! You rock! :)

Anonymous said...


That is awesome! What a great way to get a message across without being overbearing or embarrassing the kid.

Way to go!

Elle said...

This is absolutely awesome! What a creative problem solver you are, and I love that it worked to put the girl in her place. Ingenious!