Monday, March 09, 2009
I often sit in the office and try to get work done. It's hard, because my colleagues are always marching in and out with the latest gossip, or the most egregious outrages they've witnessed over the last period or two. I'm almost always ready to procrastinate. And then there are the kids.
Every kid who gets sent to the office is completely innocent. Every teacher knows that.
"Why did Ms. Wormwood send you here?"
"She just decided to kick you out for the heck of it?"
"Man, Ms. Wormwood is crazy. Ask anyone."
Usually, I end up asking Ms. Wormwood, who has a very different view of things. And even when kids are right, I try to persuade them it's to their advantage to sit and smile so they don't end up seeing Ms. Wormwood again in September. Sometimes I succeed.
Other times, kids give me stories that are so odd, they must be true.
"Why did Ms. Wormwood throw you out?" I asked a shy-looking boy.
"I told a joke."
"You know you're not supposed to do that."
"I couldn't help it," he says. "The class was really boring. Everyone was falling asleep. Somebody had to do something."
"So what did you do?"
"Well, most people in Ms. Wormwood's class speak my language," the kid said.
"Why is that important?" I asked.
"Well, I know this really good joke, and I knew it would wake them up."
"Oh, yes it did. Everyone started laughing. That's why Ms. Wormwood is so mad at me."
"Well, you knew she'd be mad at you. I'd probably be mad at you too."
"Oh, no Mr. Educator, I wouldn't fall asleep in your class. You scream too much."
"Thank you, I guess."
"Don't you see? They were falling asleep. Someone had to do something! I sacrificed myself so I could wake up the class. I had to do it. Don't you understand?"
I didn't really. But the kid was so passionate about it that I didn't know exactly what to say to him. Sometimes I'm glad to slide dilemmas like these over to administrators. They get paid the big bucks to figure this stuff out.