Friday, January 24, 2020

The Good Old Days

A colleague was just telling me about her student teaching experience. Her mentor had a particular approach to students who failed to do homework.

"You know what you have to do," he would say.

Then he would hand the kid a big Mexican sombrero, the kid would put it on, and the teacher would hit a button on his handy cassette player. The Chicken Dance would play, and the unfortunate student would have to do the entire dance for the class.

Sometimes he would have the student do the dance in the halls, so passers-by and students in other classrooms could watch.

I can't personally recommend this particular approach. I'm pretty sure you'd end up with a letter in your file once someone saw fit to complain. Frankly, I'm surprised this teacher got away with this practice for so long. Of course, times have changed.

I can't say I'm sorry. When I decided to teach ESL instead of English, I took a year off from work and got a job playing guitar in the worst Irish wedding band in the whole world. Of course, The Chicken Dance was just one of many numbers we played. While it's not the worst song in the world (That would be Feelings.), it's up there somewhere.

On another note, I was in the principal's office yesterday complaining about how things weren't done in a timely fashion, and he referred to something that happened in 1819. I'm gonna go out on a limb and concecture that in 1819 you probably could have students do The Chicken Dance in class. Perhaps your bosses would approve of your creativity and initiative. Maybe you'd have gotten a raise and a promotion. After all, The Chicken Dance probably wasn't even written yet, and there were no cassette players. You'd probably have to play it on your harpsichord or something.

Here's the thing, though. When principals talk about 1819, they are not actually hearkening back to the 19th century. They're talking about school year 2018-2019. You'd think chapter leaders would've gotten the memo, but some of us are simply too literal-minded for our own good.
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