Over the past year, I have occasionally blogged about my classroom experiences. Some were sad, some were shocking, but I have decided to share three that were just downright endearing and silly.
1. I always started my reading and English classes with fifteen minutes of silent reading. It was a directed activity where I asked the students to look or be aware of a certain grammatical or rhetorical device in their novels which would then lead into the lesson that followed. The students became accustomed to this and on this particular day the room was deathly quiet. Only the sound of pages turning could be heard, when suddenly a student farted. It was one of those where the person was trying to suppress it but did not succeed, so it came out sounding like a whistle. I instantly knew who it was because the kids sitting around him looked at him and he blushed. To help him save face, I pretended not to notice and I tried to suppress a giggle. I was not successful. One giggle led to another and soon I was laughing so hard I was draped all over the podium. Those who knew what I was laughing about joined with me, the others half-laughed half-wondered what had happened. I wasn’t laughing at the boy; I was laughing at my effort to not laugh. You know how that goes.
2. I always fancied myself a good classroom disciplinarian and to this day I still live in that dream. On one occasion, every time I turned my back on the class, rubber bands flew all over the place. I gave them the stink eye and warned them to put their rubber bands away, but it kept happening until one hit me on the back of my head. I told the class they had two minutes – two minutes! – to put all their rubber bands on my desk. I was going to step out and when I came back in if I found any on them, I was calling their parents AND sending them to the principal! I marched back into the classroom to find fistfuls – and I mean fistfuls – of rubber bands heaped on my desk. I laugh about it now, but I didn’t then.
3. My high school classroom had no windows, so when the lights went out, the students and I were thrown into pitch darkness. I warned my students not to move. I didn’t want anyone tripping and getting hurt. I didn’t want anyone to panic. I knew I could not get to my desk, so I asked the class if they had cell phones (against school rules and could be confiscated at the time) or cigarette lighters (even more against school rules and could get the students severely disciplined) would they please give us some light. Someone yelled out in the dark if it would get them into trouble. I answered no, this was an emergency. I was amazed at the number of lighters and cell phones that lit up the room. I was able to get to my desk and distribute several flashlights among the kids. The lights were out for almost half an hour that day, and no, I never reported the students who saved us that day, but we did have an understanding for the remainder of the year.
It helped to have a sense of humor when teaching adolescents. They kept me on my toes, a reminder that I taught real human beings and not just little automatons.