Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Pass

This is my pass. I don't actually love letting students have it. I'm protective of it. The pattern is this--the same students ask for it all the time, and that leads me to believe they just feel like walking the halls. Sometimes I feel like walking the halls too, but I usually wait until the class is over.

I have one student in my class who's a little talkative. That in itself isn't really an issue, except she's a little talkative fairly frequently. By that I mean she never stops talking, not for one moment, and is constantly seeking my attention. With 30 other students, I'm unable to provide it all the time.

Now sometimes, with students like this, it's good to keep them occupied. Give them something to do in the classroom, and perhaps they'll stop talking for one minute. Then you'll be able to give attention to one or more of your thirty other students. So the other day I asked her to pass out some papers. That would make for a few quiet minutes.

She didn't want to do it. She said her leg hurt. I got someone else to pass out the papers. A minute later, my loquacious student needed to go get some water.

"What about your leg?" I asked.

"It's better now," she said.

"I don't think you should go," I told her. "I want to make sure your leg doesn't get hurt again."

What followed was ten minutes of shouted requests to leave the room for water, occasionally punctuated by responses in the negative. Actually I tried pretty hard to ignore it, but it was quite difficult.

Later someone else asked to use the pass. It was nowhere to be found. I knew where I had left it--it was right on my desk, directly in front of my dissatisfied student. I had to write a pass for the student who really had to go.

Later, my talkative student's friend ratted her out. She had the pass under her sweater. So I asked her if she had taken it.

"Did you see me take it?" she asked.

I had not. But I did call her dad and tell him what happened that day, and how hard it was to teach the class with this constant monologue.

The next day I moved my talkative student away from my desk. I moved about five other students too, just to make it look like I wasn't doing what I was actually doing. My talkative student was pretty quiet. I paid way less attention to her than I usually do. We had this unspoken detente, based on my obvious suspicion and total inability to prove anything. I was still upset about the missing pass.

Yesterday I paid a little more attention to her. She turned into her usual noisy self. I kind of turned into myself too, and vainly tried to curb her enthusiasm, as per usual. Then she presented me with a field trip form.  I saw an opportunity.

"I'll tell you what. If you're quiet for three days, I'll sign the form."

"But I need it TODAY!"

"Sorry. Those are my terms."

"Okay, fine," she said. "I don't care."

We went on with the class. The next time I looked in my bag, the pass had mysteriously returned.

Who knows what lurks in the hearts of noisy students?

Not me, that's for sure.
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