I was Fred and (Some of) My Principals Were Super Chicken

There have been days (thankfully, fewer than were more) in my teaching career in which I felt like the character Fred.

Super ChickenImage

Reader Stephanie commented, “During my journey of assisting and teaching, I can clearly see that classroom management is a must. It is not as easy as one thinks. However, after several years, I tell you, I am at my finest in management and teaching. I strongly believe that teaching is a true art that over time will be perfected.” 

This is the rest of this particular excerpt from a book I wrote.

Second period will surely be better. Not! Murphy’s Law is in motion, and I can’t seem to put the brakes on it. Shaquonda (I’ll give you three guesses where I teach), who by the way, is not considered popular or well like by her peers just puked in class. I get a chorus, an unwanted chorus of squeals, giggles, and yes, teasing.

Which fire do I put out first? The puking kid, of course. I press the button so I can call the office, send Shaquonda to the bathroom with another female (one who has some compassion), the office to call a parent or guardian, and then begin to shut down the rest of the class. Where is the janitor? He can’t possibly be somewhere else cleaning up another classroom. Noooo! Damage control. Think fast. Send another kid (three are out, and believe me, I’m keeping a head count) to the bathroom and get some paper towels to cover this absolutely disgusting sight. It makes me want to puke.

Where’s my can of Lysol? I spray like I’ve lost my mind, and pray (shouldn’t I have been doing this earlier?) the janitor comes soon. At long last, he makes it. There’s this stuff that neutralizes the odor and changes the molecular structure so it can be cleaned up faster, Today’s lesson is still on paper; it never got off the paper, because now I have to engage my class in a discussion about compassion for someone when they’re sick.

It’s lunch time. Surely I will find solace, refuge and wisdom in the teacher’s lounge. Not so. Be assured students puking in my room will happen again my veteran colleagues warn me. In fact, as the weather begins to change, I’m told to expect getting ill myself because I need to build up immunity to the students.

This paints a new picture of germ warfare in my mind; a picture complete with millions of ameba and protozoan cells out running me and attacking me. Mrs. Art Teacher told me it took a couple of years to build up her immune system. Two years? Groan. I think I lost my appetite for lunch; I’ll wait until I get home. This obviously, can’t happen fast enough.

My students are completely energetic after a fun and exciting lunch period for 6th period class. I’m not, but I must a semblance of pleasantness. It wouldn’t be fair to punish them for my Murphy day. This class has been the silver lining in my day, especially since they knew what happened earlier with Shaquonda. Even kids share and spread the latest school events, so I’m not surprised. Some of my students were particularly helpful this period, offering to pass out instruments and collect them. Have at it, I encourage them.

As I stand at the door to usher out 6th period class, and usher in 7th period, I can tell they are going to stretch mhy patience a little more thinly. How do I have such intuition? Some of my students are louder than usual, and the Bad Seed just came across my classroom threshold with gum. Part of the reason I stand at the door is to encourage students to discard all items from their mouths that nature and the dentist did not put there. Little Miss Bad Seed decides to deny it.

Here we go. Of my many talents as a musician, counselor, referee, and coach, I am also a dental assistant. Oh yes, I am. Open your mouth, I tell her. If I see the slightest movement from your throat, I’ll know you swallowed the gum. You know that happened net, right? She swallowed it. Idiot! If she had just confessed, I would have let it go. Not Little Miss Bad Seed; she tries to deny it. Now the whole class is involved. Several students said, “I saw her swallow it!” Even kids, who were nowhere near the scene of the crime, saw it somehow.That’s it! I get the rest of the class settled, and take the little liar into the hallway.

This is a lesson in effective classroom management. Taking the child in the hallway serves three purposes: (1) generally you can turn the behavior around without making you or the kid lose face in front of the class, (2) you can promise (never, ever, ever make threats you can’t bring to pass) to call home, visit, or have the child experience (not physical or mental, of course) some form of punishment (or strike a deal) without witnesses. Eat your heart out, Jimmy Hoffa. (3) Make the rest of the class wonder what is going on “out there,” and possibly defer future rebellions.

Like a slow-motion replay, I robotically finish the class. What did we cover? I don’t remember. Did the kids straighten up the room before they left? I don’t remember that, either. My brain is fried; my patience has long since left, my nerves are frazzled, and I’m hungry.

As I escort this class out (they can’t walk out fast enough), my homeroom class comes back. They get their things, and I escort them out of the building. Good-bye, good Lord, good-bye. There’s no place like home. This means a good, solid nap, so I can finish my evening productively.

Professors X, Y, and Z forgot to mention this possibility. Gee, that little insight would have helped me immensely.

While a work in progress, feel free to go to my website www.missdoctoratedu.com for information on my vision for teachers and public education.

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