I throw things at students.
Most commonly, whiteboard markers, stuffed animals, and erasers but I’m pretty sure I’ve launched food, toys, clothing and any number of other objects in their direction at one time or another.
Which means at this point, those of you without a sense of humor are getting your panties all in a wad. “Teachers shouldn’t throw things at kids! That’s abuse! It’s rude, demeaning, and I’m going to report you to the authorities/send a nasty email to your admin/threaten you with a lawsuit!”
Oh, fiddlety-fart. Throwing things at kids in the classroom is the teacher equivalent of tossing your partner the car keys as you’re both about get in the car. Admit it. You’re too lazy to walk around the car, hand him/her the keys, walk all the way back around the car and then get in, so you opt for the much simpler option of launching them over the top. Trouble is, sometimes you misjudge, and they land in the snow mush on the street. Or skitter across the hood. Or whack your partner in the head. It happens.
I’ve got classroom stuffed with 30 desks and chairs, gangly teenage bodies, and massive backpacks weighing a half-ton each scattering the aisles. Navigating that mess is the educational equivalent of American Gladiator. “Tell us now viewers! Can Teach make it across the cold cinder block room nimbly dodging moving bodies, table legs and soda spills (that aren’t even allowed in the classroom in the first place) all without smashing her face into a cold tile floor or awkwardly landing on a teenager’s lap?! Stay tuned!” In Teacher Gladiator you get extra points if you manage the task while also giving instructions and handing out papers. A near-death experience is backpack straps and slippery floors.
It’s much safer just to throw things.
There’s only one problem:
The one and only time you launch a textbook across the room (a huge no-no as they’re insanely expensive) will be the one and only time a student fails to catch it, gets smashed in the mouth, busts the textbook, and begins bleeding right as your school board decides to visit your room on the “get to know education at the roots” tour.
Exaggerating? Maybe. But Murphy’s law has a special affection for teachers, and there do exist certain Universal Truths of the Classroom. So we’ll just neatly combine them all into one and call it The Singing Pig Laws of Teaching (SPLOT.)
SPLOT #1: Admin will always walk in at the worst possible moment.
“All right, kids!” I enthusiastically announce. Today, we’re doing improv! Drop a word or phrase in one cup, a place or situation in another and that’s what you’re going to use for 30 second dialogues. Ready? GO!”
It’s the style chapter. Plaid, freckles, slender, wool, silk, necklace. How bad could it be?
Door click. Enter principal. Students grab phrases from cups.
Student #1: “Hola, Juan! I am…” (looks down at paper) “I am not wearing pants. And I’m in the bathroom. I am not wearing pants in the bathroom.”
Student #2: “Oh, Juan. That’s nice. I…um…so what…what is the problem exactly?”
Student #1: “Pants. I have no pants. And paper. No toilet paper.”
Student #2: “Toilet paper. Right. Oh! You need help! I will help you. I will take off my pants and use them to wipe your…”
Student #1 obligingly sticks his rear in the air.
“TIME!” I shout. “That’s 30 seconds!” Principal hasn’t moved from door post. I sigh.
Student #1: “Buenos días, Anita.”
Student #2: “Buenos días, José.”
Student #1: “I am wearing a leather diaper. Do you like my leather diaper? It’s a tight leather diaper. And I am a sexy, sexy beast. Would you like to touch my tight, sexy, leather diaper?”
How, when I cannot for the life of me get them to use a dictionary on their homework, do they somehow mysteriously know “diaper,” “sexy,”and “beast” the day my boss walks in?
“Whatever, Teach,” you’re thinking. “It’s a foreign language. He doesn’t even know what’s going on.”
Oh yes, he does. I got the good luck to have a principal who speaks Spanish. And even if he didn’t I’m going to guess that the nipple-rubbing and ass-sticking-in-facing would give it away. It’s better, I suppose, than the days admin comes in and my children have all had lobotomies.
“Now, guys, we’re going to play a game!”
“You guys, love games, right? And you’re totally prepared because we’ve been studying this vocab for a week!”
“OH MY GOD, I’M ON FIRE!” I run around in a circle, then stop, drop, and roll.
Door click. Principal leaves.
“Aw, dude! We’re playing a game! Which game, Sra.? Sweet!”
SPLOT #2: High school boys will always dress in drag.
If you sense of humor-less folks didn’t have the panties wadded up before this, guarantee you’re feeling the wedgie now. Sorry, my refined friends, but it’s true. Boys like girly clothes. Perhaps not on a daily basis, but should you like to run a very simple experiment:
Recipe for Drag
1. Fill one room with an equal combination of 14 – 18 year old males and females
2. Add two bins of perfectly respectable yet gender stereotypical clothing
3. Instruct to produce a brief dialogue.
4. Let simmer 3 minutes.
The winner of our school’s costume contest? Dude dressed as Amy Winehouse. Winner of Mr. School Spirit? Dude dressed as Lady Gaga. Show your school spirit day? Dudes dress in drag. Dress up your teacher day? Dress dude teachers as Brittany Spears.
I have women’s size 4 dresses in my magic drag bins. I figure that’s not even an option for a growing teenage boy. He’s going to be much more comfortable in a man’s old blazer, thus minimizing my classroom cross-dressing (and, hopefully, angry parent emails. Always a plus, minimizing angry parent emails.)
“Señora…” I hear a desperate gasp from behind me. “Help!”
The school’s star basketball player has a black, strapless dress pulled halfway down his chest where it has become definitively and impressively stuck. His arms flail above his head while the dress’s elastic band slowly constricts around his chest, suffocating him.
“For crying out loud, Colin,” I say grabbing the dress and yanking upwards. (Note to self: not in the job description – yanking dresses off adolescent boys) “You might think twice before attempting to pull something the size of your bicep over your head.”
“What?” I pause, confused, black dress halfway covering student’s face.
“Not off. Help me pull it on!“
I like to think that I am simply following a long line of acting greats. Shakespeare’s actors were all men. Even Juliet. The hottie with the family jewels. Following Shakespeare, naturally, comes Monty Python, who knew the value of falsetto and men in women’s clothing. And really. No really. There is nothing better on this earth than British men and drag. Except, perhaps, Spam. (Gratuitous Monty Python clip of the day – here. Inexplicable Asian subtitles = added bonus. Thank me later.) I am only leading my students down the path to future theater greatness.
But if you’re a little confused, no worries. “You teach Spanish, Teach! But your blog moved from throwing things at students to drag, drooling, Monty Python, and…? What are you doing to the young minds of America?!”
Well, to answer your question…I’m just trying to keep up with them.
SPLOT #3 At least three times a day, you will have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.
Nope, pantie-wadders. No way. Don’t even think that I’m talking about content mastery. I can rattle on about the rules to past tense, accent placement and tricks for memorizing vocab until you shout uncle! Or, pardon me, rather… ¡tío! But I have carried on many a daily conversation where I’m pretty sure someone’s feet are not touching the ground even though I can feel mine digging silently into the cold, hard floors.
Transcript of real conversation:
“Alright, Joe. We need to talk grades. You have a 59.5 in my class. You must come in for extra help or it is very likely you’re going to fail.”
“I’m teaching myself Greek and Latin.”
“In my free time, I’m teaching myself Greek and Latin.”
“That’s really great. But I still need you to come in, because I’m worried about you not passing this semester.”
“Languages are really easy for me, so I thought ‘hey – since I’m learning Spanish at school, I might as well teach myself Greek and Latin.'”
“Joe -I’m glad you think languages are easy for you, but I don’t know how well Greek and Latin are going to serve you if you’re not passing my class. Now, when would you like to come in so I can explain the material?”
“I once set an entire building on fire by accident. I was five.”
I can’t make this shit up.
I can only try and keep up with it, and that’s exhausting. Which is why, instead of trying to think of a clever conclusion to this entry, I’m just going to leave you with something completely different:
SPLOT round two, coming soon.