Fire Prevention

It’s always around this time of year that I find myself hoping the school doesn’t burn down

Not, admittedly, because I’m overly concerned with the prospect of a fire (lord knows we practice enough drills so that even in the case of spontaneous combustion of the entire campus, all 1,500 students would still make it out alive, bitching and moaning about how they didn’t have time to get their jackets before being shipped off to the football field) but because I’m fairly certain that if the school burns down at this time of year, it’s going to be my students’ fault.

So I preemptively try and avoid it every spring.

“Hey, Teach, can I go to the library?” my students ask during study hall.

“Yes,” I write them a pass.  “Just please don’t burn anything down.”

“Hey, Teach, can I go to the bathroom?”  they ask (inevitably five minutes into class when they know durn well to pee during passing period).

“Yes,” I say.  “Unless you’re going to start a fire.”

Perhaps I come off as a little uptight.  Or a completely paranoid freak.  But you haven’t seen my classroom when it’s seventy-five degrees outside, the sun is shining, birds are chirping and teenagers are oh-so-ready for summer break.  Twelve years of teaching experience, multiple leadership positions, professional development and conferences galore…and my classroom management still goes right out the window.  As, occasionally, do the kids when I’m not looking.  Or sometimes they just make complete fools of themselves for fun.

“BWAAAAAH!!!” I hear a bellow and glance to the desks on my right.  Somehow, Pablo has managed to fall out of his desk into my plastic bin of dress-up clothes where he now flails like a cockroach on its back, his butt two feet deep in Goodwill goodies.

I am first confused by how you fall out of desk if you’re simply sitting and taking notes.  I am secondly confused by how you fall out of a desk into a bin that is taller than the seat of your desk.  Finally, I am baffled by how you fall out of your desk into a bin of clothes that is on the other side of the room.  

“Teach! Your pants pantsed me!”  Pablo pulls up himself up, yanks his loose-fitting jeans back up over his boxers and grins, somehow reminding me of a puppy who’s just eaten his owner’s socks.  If Pablo had a tail, he’d be wagging it.

“Pablo…” I start, then realize that Pablo is six-foot-four, further adding to my confusion as to how he could even fit inside my plastic bin.

“Just…go sit down.  In a desk.”

It’s the time of year when even the most seasoned teachers find themselves sending home emails that say:

Dear Parent,

During class today Your Child inexplicably decided to cut off the rat tail of the student in front of him during our English lesson.  While I understand that a rat tail may not be everyone’s hairstyle of choice, it is entirely unacceptable for Your Child to make decisions around personal grooming for other students.  I am afraid Your Child shows some significant struggles with impulse control.

To be fair, it’s May.  Who doesn’t have trouble with impulse control in May?  I certainly do.  It’s all I can do to control the impulse to use up the rest of my sick days drinking margaritas on a sunny patio rather than trying to beat stem-changing verbs into the brains of students whose verbal communication this time of year is limited to three short utterances:  Can we go outside, today? Canwegooutsidetoday?  Can we go outside today puh-lease?

Are they desperate enough to go outside that they’d burn the school down?

Probably not.  They’re good kids, in the end.

But I’ve never trusted “probably” when dealing with teenagers.

I once had a principal who liked to do workshops the month before school was out on “How to End the Year Strong.”  His mini-classes were filled with tips and tricks for getting the students to create their own review, giving techniques for showing them in concrete manners exactly how much they’ve learned, creating systems to indicate mastery of core concepts and gaps in learning.

Wow.  That’s really great stuff.  If you can handle all of that, please, teach away.  You just teach yourself silly, right through the mayhem that is the last month of school.

As for me, I’ll just be over here in my little corner making sure it’s not my kids burning down the building.  That’s how I end strong.  No arson.  Which is why I’ve taken to carrying a fire-extinguisher everywhere I go.  And if, between checking for learning gaps and creating review packets, one of your children goes AWOL with a book of matches and the hopeful look of freedom in his eyes, no worries.  I’ve got your back.

Nobody’s going up in flames on my watch.

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5 Responses to Fire Prevention

  1. Watch out for the parents, too – I’m completely ready to be done with making lunches, listening to 3rd grade Melrose Place drama and waiting for that #$%@ minivan to move so I can drop my kid off.

  2. Kate C says:

    So, does this mean you are for or against year-round school? On the one hand, there would be no summer break to taunt everybody. On the other hand, there would be no summer break!!!

  3. singingpigs says:

    Oh, tough question. Honestly, for the kids and learning retention and whatnot, year-round school is undoubtedly best. But, despite the insanity in the pre-summer weeks…I do, oh, I do love taunting other professions with my two months off!

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