I have a lot of stories about my eight years as math teacher, track coach, team leader, committee member, and the three years that I also was allowed to teach English. (I never got my certification in English, though I was pretty close to a minor. For middle school it doesn't have to be official. They just accepted the courses I'd tested out of doing AP English and Literature, and my creative writing and lit stuff in college (“stuff”, isn't that a great, specific word for an English teacher? LOL) (Though of course, as you know, my training did not include rules about using parentheses. Probably good, because I'd be breaking just about every one of them.) With so much to tell, this post was already two pages long before I even arrived at my middle school. I've therefore chopped all that and will tell you one story that to this day never fails to leave me in fits of giggles when I go back to it.
We had nine periods one year. Yes, each is shorter, but you have all those transitions to work through. Regardless, even I, the self-proclaimed math nerd, would not have wanted math ninth period. It was going on March, and we'd just returned from spring break. During spring break they re-wax all the floors. My classroom was part of a former “open classroom design”. I remember this trend well, as it was how I spent my own middle school years. However, bright minds had finally caught on to the fact that middle school kids are easily distracted. I know, really observant, right? So there was a temporary, moveable wall between me and the social studies teacher. When I wanted to dismiss my kids, I had to peek out the door to make sure he'd already dismissed his, as mine had to traipse through his classroom to return to civilization. It worked fine, though. Mr. M and I were both schedule oriented people. (Please hang with me, this background is crucial to what happened.) So here we are, ninth period, newly waxed floors, dividing MOVEABLE wall. Just trying to sum up so you know what's important.
My classroom was very structured. As is math. As am I. We'd completed the five warm-up questions, graded our previous homework, and were just getting to the lesson of the day. I have no recollection of what that lesson was, though since it was March, probably geometry. I'm at my over-head, doing examples, and I've just about had it from him. “Kyle” was one of those smart-ass kids who pushed every envelope edge and button he could. But he was smart, and funny, and gosh-darnit, I really liked him. However, he'd made one rude comment too many (though they were clever, still rude) had distracted one infatuated girl too many, and it was time for action.
“Kyle, get your books and switch to that seat back THERE.” I pointed to the wasteland. I had a table at the side of my room which my blind student needed for her braille machine and her aide. When she wasn't in the class, it was my “you have been banished from the rest of us decent folks” seat. He picked up his books, snarled at me, and went marching exaggeratedly towards the back. As he's getting ready to turn the corner behind the rows of desks, he encounters the newly polished floors, and with one of those exaggerated, giant stomps, looses his footing. With a thundering THUD he slides like a baseball player into home plate, and hits the temporary wall, which starts to sway. I'm talking big fall, big thud. The entire classroom ERUPTS in laughter. I mean, picture this. This popular kid, who just got told where to go by his favorite teacher (yea, he told me that, AFTER this incident) ends up being taken down ALL the notches, and is lying on the floor, books scattered. As for me, I'm gone. Dissolved in the biggest fit of giggles I've ever had.
Mr. M comes to my door. “Is everything ok? We heard a huge thud. The wall was moving.” He then notices the laughter all around. And the red-faced boy at the quarantine table. “Hey Mr. Hotshot, guess karma caught up with you!” The class again dissolves into laughter. But they calm down soon. Me, not so much. I don't know why exactly I wasn't able to pull it together, but each time I started to return to the lesson, the image of his fall played again in my brain. And I started giggling again. “It's not that funny!” “Can we have some more examples?” But they hadn't seen it from my perspective. Most of them just heard the thud, turned around, and saw him lying there. They missed the snarl, the stomp, the karma. I just gave up. “We'll catch up tomorrow. No homework tonight!” “AWESOME!” “What are you going to do tomorrow, Kyle, to get us no homework?”
This is alphabet soup week at Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. We've been asked to stir it all up by posting either an old post which we want more readers for, a post for a letter we missed, or just another take on a letter we've already done. I decided to take T (for Tina the teacher) and post what I'd been thinking of when we were on vacation. Please head over to Jenny's and taste some more of the “soup”.