Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lesson #5 - No one puts Davey in the corner.

When I was still at university, I had to engage in practical 'prac' teaching.  I did so at 5 different schools over my degree, all of which were challenging in different ways.  At one particular school, I had the 'pleasure' of teaching an absolutely atrocious Year 10 class.  All but three of the students were male, and they pressed every single one of my buttons on a daily basis.  They were rude, aggressive, violent towards each other, and I was small, meek and mild, and I hadn't gotten into my teaching 'stride' just yet.

I'd learned fairly quickly that if I asked students to leave the room for a minute while they calmed down, they would do a bolt, so within a couple of days I came up with a new strategy - 'time out' in the corner of the room.  A time out would only last a minute, but the idea was that they were focused away from the rest of the class, and that, as they were so often acting like kindergarten kids, it was time that I treated them as such.

For several days, the 'time out' system was working for me.  A kid hit someone, or called someone a name, or called me a name - and I sent them to stand in the corner.  It actually ended up being a pretty ok spot for them, because the heater was right in the corner, so they could stand there and warm themselves up while contemplating why they shouldn't have dropped the F-bomb in class.

Of course, as a rule, behaviour management techniques often have short lived results.  It was winter during my prac, and fairly cold where we were (hitting a max of about 10 degrees Celsius on most days) and soon enough, being sent to the corner was a badge of pride.  It was warmer there than elsewhere in the classroom, and it meant that you had done something that upset the weak little pretend teacher.  In fact, the only kid who didn't like it was Davey, who didn't like anything but calling me names and giving me death stares.  Davey didn't like going to the corner, and I learned quickly, would do anything to NOT be there.

On one particularly chilly and hateful morning, I asked Davey to take his book out of his bag.  Davey felt it necessary to tell me where he'd like me to put his book.  Of course, he knew the rules, and at 10 minutes past nine, it was time for Davey to make his way to the time out corner.  Davey, as usual, was not impressed, and this time, he had a plan.

I can only image that it was a plan, because it was far too ingenius for him to have simply thought of on the spot.  Davey, simply looked at me, looked back at the heater, looked and me, and proceeded to unzip his fly and urinate into the gas heater.

It was about 45 seconds before I realised what had happened.  It apparently takes 45 seconds for urine to evaporate, and for the stench to fill a classroom. 

It takes another minute and a half following that for a teacher to evacuate 27 boys and 3 girls from a classroom, and 5 or 6 minutes for the defendant's best friends to agree to dob in their best friend to get out of a whole class lunch detention.

The classroom was put out of action for the day, and we didn't turn that heater on again for the next three weeks I was there.  He got a 48 hour suspension, and 30 kids froze to death for a month.

True Story.

1 comment:

  1. God I love your blog. Especially the pictures :D Keep writing!