Instigating Chaos

It is so easy to lose control of the classroom. There I am, actively teaching a lesson, everyone is involved, and suddenly they’re all rolling about on the floor laughing hysterically. It is especially difficult to bring them back when I end up down there with them.

For instance: in current events today we were talking about a local car accident. One of the kids asked about air bags. I said, “Well, I was in an accident once and-”

Jake jumped from his seat and exclaimed, “Did you die?”

The whole class is silent as we look at him. I started to smile — couldn’t help it — and said drily, “Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I did.”

And that fast the floor is littered with rolling bodies. Sigh. I really need to learn to control myself.

Compassionate Aid


I keep special white art erasers in my classroom for use on projects where neatness counts. Cindi made a spelling error on her final writing draft of the proficiency exam. She raised her hand and asked for the white eraser. I tossed it to her.

Cindi used both hands to catch the eraser. In the process she scraped her right wrist with the clasp of the watchband on her other hand. She got up and came to show me the faint mark. The skin was roughed up, but no blood was evident.

“Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!” She cried dramatically, extending her arm in front of my face.

With tenderness and sympathy I clasped her right hand in my left, then picked up my huge, heavy duty cutting-sheers with my right hand. “I can take care of that for you,” I said, snapping the scissors open and closed.

Cindi immediately jerked her hand back to her chest. “No, no. I’m okay with it,” she said.

“Are you sure?” I motioned with the scissors. “It would only take a moment …”

She backed rapidly toward her seat. “It’s okay. It’s okay. It barely hurts at all.”

“Fine then,” I told her. “You know where to find me if you change your mind.”

Classroom Biology

Thursday after the testing period ended, I gave my students a math puzzle. I told them they could work in groups, but they all chose to work in singular silence. The silence was pierced by the unmistakable sound of breaking wind, followed by twenty-three loud voices. “Ewwww!”

A pocket of space formed around one young man. A half dozen pointing fingers declared him the source of public shame. “It wasn’t me,” he yelled. “I have never farted in my life!”

The word farted was greeted with the same gasps and teeters that accompanied the original faux pas.

“Never?” I queried.

“Never!” He repeated emphatically.

“Okay. Now I know it was you,” I told him.

“No way!” He stomped his foot and frowned at me. Then, grinning, he demanded, “How did you know?”

I said, “Well, when you said you’d never farted I knew that was a lie. And I thought, if you’d lie about that, then you’re probably not telling the truth now, either.”

Laughing, he tried to insist that he really had never farted in his life. I shook my head. “If that were true, you’d be so full of hot air you’d be floating around like a balloon, and probably would have popped long ago.”

The entire topic was too much for the class at large. They were all laughing hysterically and wiping tears from their eyes. It took me awhile to get them redirected to their work. Then, as the last of the tee-hees faded, Jasmine wondered, “Have you ever farted Ms. A?”

“Me?!” I exclaimed. “Of course not!”


I’m a teacher. They pay me to torture children. It’s a nice life.

Gerry doesn’t talk. He’s maybe said twelve sentences all year. Today I handed him a file folder full of paper that I had accidentally taken from another teacher. I said, “Gerry, take these next-door to Ms. Whiner and tell her, ‘Ms. A. is an idiot.’ Can you do that?”

Gerry nodded his head. “Are you sure?” I asked. “You can’t just say, ‘here.'” Gerry nodded his head. “Maybe you should say it now for practice. Try it. Ms. A. is an idiot.'” Gerry shook his head. “I can send someone else, you know. You don’t have to do this. Jasmine-”

“I can do it,” Jerry answered. His voice was strong and firm. He disappeared through the door into Ms. Whiner’s room.

I shook my head and told the class, “He just said his sentence for this month. What do you want to bet-”

Gerry returned. “Did you say it?” Jasmine demanded.

Gerry turned red and shrugged. “You didn’t, did you, Gerry?” Pansy queried.

Gerry turned even redder.

“So,” I asked, “What did you say?”

Gerry mumbled something.

“What?” Jasmine, Pansy and I all demanded. The whole class leaned forward as Gerry shouted: “I said: Here!”

Getting It Write

I really do love teaching. When I am in the classroom interacting with the students, life is good.

Today’s writing prompt was:

There are many exciting people in the world. Tell about one.

I wrote the prompt on the board and then displayed a poster board with a non-example on it. I read the prompt, then I went to stand next to my student, Cindy, and read the poster:

My friend, Cynthia, is very exciting. She is in the fifth grade, has brown hair and brown eyes and is a good student. I like her a lot.

Finally I asked: “Would that be an acceptable paragraph?”

The class chorused, “No!”

So far, so good.

I asked, “Why not?”

Rick said, “It wasn’t long enough.”

Moses said, “No! No! Cynthia is not your friend, she is your student.”

The little voice in the back of my head said, Oh yeah, this is going well.

Then Jasmine raised her hand. “Your paragraph is boring,” she announced.

Finally, my little voice chanted, but I pretended shock. “Boring? What do you mean?”

Jasmine said, “The prompt wants to know something exciting about Cindy. You just listed a bunch of ordinary facts.”

“Oh!” I exclaimed, over-acting as usual. “So, what do I need to do to make the paper more exciting?”

Jon, who sits beside Cindy, looked over at her and drawled, “First, choose another person …”

The class laughed and Jasmine waved her arm frantically. “Choose me! Choose me!””

“Can’t,” I answered. “It says amazing person, not obnoxious person.”

Jasmine responded with her standard open-mouthed, wide-eyed — Who me? — head shake.

“You have a problem?” I asked her.

“You just called me obnoxious! You can’t do that!” Jasmine over-acts, too. We make a great team.

I responded with a question, “Weren’t you the kid that just came to my desk and asked me 473 questions in less than three minutes, while I was trying to read?”

Jasmine tried to hold her indignant pose, but cracked up laughing.

I nodded my head at her. “Yep. See. I win. Obnoxious.

Jasmine turned to Pansy Petite. “Ms. A. always wins, but someday I’ll get her!”

Pansy nodded her head, “You just keep believing that,” she said. And then she rolled her eyes.