Tuesday, June 26, 2007

How to Fix a New York City Door

Every single day, Mr. Williams got the interruption. He was trying to teach his class the fine points of Global Studies, when some tall, fast kid would open his door, shout "Puta madre!" and run away. Worse, several of his students had told him what it meant, and he didn't think it was nice at all.

He repeatedly, formally, informally, directly and indirectly asked the custodians to fix his door, but six weeks later, they had not gotten around to it. He had informed the administration, and watched the principal's mustache move up and down as he responded gravely to Mr. Williams' concerns. Still, every day, it was "Puta madre," and try to continue. It was becoming unbearable.

Now Mr. Flowers, the math teacher, was very handy. Not only that, but he was familiar with the ancient locks in the 100-year-old school doors. But Mr. Flowers had also heard that teachers could be fired for doing the work of custodians.

So one day, Mr. Williams gave his kids a writing assignment, and told the kids they were free to help one another. Mr. Flowers brought a screwdriver and fixed the door while Mr. Williams kept vigil. They stopped several times when administrators came down the hall, and pretended to be team-teaching. Several administrators praised them for their initiative.

By the end of the period, Mr. Williams' door locked, and distractions to his class were once again limited to those of his own students.
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