Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Survived Ninth Grade

About 15 years ago, I was asked to substitute teach for first and second graders in a local elementary school in Efrat. (No, I'm not a regular substitute or a teacher of any kind.)
I was asked to teach first grade girls and second grade boys. The girls were adorable, and although they needed help with every single question I asked them, they were sweet and well behaved. The boys were good too, except for three of them. One little boy with a plastic hammer was walking around the class banging other kids on the head. Another little boy was grabbing things away from his classmates, causing protests all around the room. The third, truthfully, I don't remember, but he was plain misbehaving.
So I took these three to the front of the room. I took the hammer away from the first, and bopped him on the head with it. "How do you like that? Do you think that hammer bops are still a good idea now that you've felt them yourself?" I had the second give back everything he had taken, plus stickers from his own famous sticker collection. The third, I potched on the tush. Then I shooed the three back to their seats and they were angels for the rest of the class.
When the teacher for whom I had been substituting checked on the boys, she said, "This class usually challenges me every moment. How do you keep them so quiet?"
I told her, "I potched the the trouble makers and told them they'd better behave."
"What!!!" You can't hit children today!" Boy, that was news to me. B"H, she told me after the class was over, instead of anywhere in the middle.

Fast Forward
This week, 15 years after my first substitute teacher's stint, I found myself in the classroom with about 20 ninth graders.
I walked in and most of the boys knew me. And I knew their mothers. I thought that would hold me in good stead. Um, no.
I set up a lesson on Critical Reading, and while many of the boys participated, thanks to the antics of a few others, I quickly felt myself being dragged down into the quick sand of the substitute teacher torture pit. Suddenly, one of the boys realized that my handouts were funny. He raised his hand and commented on one of the signs I asked them to read.
Then another raised his hand, and one by one I had them reading signs or ads and commenting.
Somehow, the word Dubai came up, and then the Dubai assassination. None of them had ever heard about it. So, I gave them the blow-by-blow I had seen on youtube. I made football-like diagrams of which spy was where and where he went next. I asked them to analyze the assassination and prove who-dunnit!
Suddenly I felt the thrill that teachers the world over must feel when their class enjoys their lesson. It almost made me want to come back again. And I decided I would...in about five years.
This is a tribute to my friend, TTT, Toby the Teacher, and to teachers everywhere.
HOW DO YOU DO IT?? EVERY DAY?? And you actual teach them valuable things!!! Wow!! You are great!

1 comment:

  1. wow....y didnt u mention me...?

    ReplyDelete