Funny Teaching Moments: Cheeseburger Casserole and Hotter Than Hades
For eighteen years I walked the halls of schools in three states, dispensing knowledge and soaking up the ambience of school atmosphere. I lived and breathed teaching, loved every minute of it and found myself sinking to the depths of depraved humor while dealing with my students. You really do need a sense of humor if you are going to be a teacher. It is mandatory unless you have the overwhelming desire to go home one day and start babbling uncontrollably like some six-month old infant.
For some, teaching is stressful, and for those who find it to be so, their careers are usually a bit short. Others, like this author, found school to be hilarious and students delightful, so delightful in fact that I wanted to share some of my personal experiences with you.
I swear to you all that these events actually happened. I have changed the names of the people involved so there is no danger of me getting sued. Just kick back, grab a cold one and enjoy a few of the memorable moments in my teaching career.
WHAT, NO CASSEROLE?????
The veins bulged in his neck as he strained to lift the metal desk above his head. Struggling to get it in throwing position, his teeth clenched, he barely resembled the 8th grader who normally sat in Desk #1, Row #2. Spittle was flying as he screamed at the teacher, a twenty-four year old woman in her first year of teaching. Ms. Roberts had thought clearly enough to send another student to the office for help and just as the desk reached the zenith of the lift, the principal, Mr. Worson, appeared at the classroom door.
I arrived several seconds after the principal which meant that his body would deflect the desk if it became airborne in the direction of the door. I was pleased with that fact. It was a perfect situation for me, quite frankly. I would receive bonus points for responding so quickly to an emergency but there was practically no chance of me getting hurt. A win-win situation for sure.
HOW HAD WE ARRIVED AT THIS SITUATION?
How had a seemingly mild-mannered student been transformed into the embodiment of mental illness so quickly? Well, it all started with a serving of cheeseburger casserole. That’s right, cheeseburger casserole! Now I’m going to assume that most of you have not heard of this particular culinary masterpiece and if you have heard of it you certainly have never allowed it to pass between your lips. The reason I’m making that assumption is because to my knowledge the only residents of the United States where that dish is eaten regularly are in Alaska. Hey, when your normal diet consists of whale blubber and dog steak, cheeseburger casserole is like eating pheasant-under-glass!
Anyway, back to the 8th grader, John Holson.
It seemed that young John had his heart set on hot dogs and tater tots that day. That in itself is somewhat of a mystery because I tasted the hot dogs and tater tots at that school and they barely qualified as food. It would have been understandable if John had wanted that meal for their weapon potential but to eat???
Upon arriving at school that morning John discovered that the menu had been switched and thus the reason for his tirade. I’m not sure if things had been bothering John prior to the Great Menu Switch or if he was just naturally unstable; all I know is his temper display was the stuff of legends.
Back to the story! I was perfectly placed behind the principal, who looked like he was contemplating early retirement. Ms. Roberts by this time was under her desk shrieking. The principal finally wrestled the desk away from the student and peace was restored.
THEN THE AFTERMATH
The parents eventually came in and the inevitable screaming match happened; it could be heard throughout the school as the parents were convinced that Little Johnny was mistreated and the principal was convinced that the parents were not qualified to parent. By the end of the week the smoke had cleared. The kid was expelled from school, the principal was reprimanded for his insensitivity, Ms. Roberts put in for a transfer and I was given a citation for actions above and beyond the call of duty.
THE FIRE DRILL DISASTER
A fire drill had been scheduled for a Friday the 13th of my second year of teaching. Since it was the first fire drill of the school year we had been told that it was coming and most of us had received the warning. Unfortunately a dear friend, one Maggie Barnsworth, had not received the news. She had been gone the previous day and thus had not read the memo telling us of the upcoming drill. Friday dawned a fiery red that morning of the 13th, an omen no doubt. The thing about omens, though, is that none of us are bright enough to recognize them for what they are, a suggestion from God that there is something slightly off-kilter with the universe, and that you would be well-advised to grab hold of your butt and get ready for some sort of out-of-the-ordinary event. We just merrily continue with our day’s schedule and the omen is glanced at and forgotten. And so it was that Friday. Maggie arrived at work, cheery and confident, unaware that she was soon to become a legend at our school.
I liked Maggie Barnsworth. She was bright, upbeat, full of energy and confident that there wasn’t a student alive that she could not teach and inspire. I felt good being around her. The kids felt good being around her. She was always bombarded each day with high fives and best wishes from staff and students. Until that Friday, however, she had never been tested under fire. She had never “faced the elephant.” She had never looked at her frailties and realized that she might be lacking. Some people are like that; some have never been tested by the time they reach their twenties. Life has somehow excluded them from any gut-wrenching or nerve-shattering moments and there is no way to know how they will handle an unscripted moment like a fire alarm without warning. And so it came to pass that as Maggie was imparting more of her wisdom upon her students, at 9:12 that morning the alarm sounded and her life took a detour.
A LEGEND IS BORN
My most lasting memory of Maggie is, unfortunately for her, of her backside as she sprinted down the hall and out the door screaming “FIRE”, leaving behind her thirty ghost-white students. True, Maggie had a shapely backside, but that is not how you truly want your teaching career to be remembered. By the time she realized what she had done; by the time she realized where her students were; by the time she realized that the elephant had won that showdown….well, suffice it to say, that I had doubled over in a fit of laughter so hearty that my ribs hurt for three days afterwards.
Maggie became a legend that day. She survived the school year and went on to a fine career as a teacher but you never live down a moment like that one. For years after that living nightmare you could count on friends of hers yelling “FIRE” when they saw Maggie coming towards them. Gee, I wonder how they ever found out what happened that day at school? LOL
Stay tuned for more; I’ve got a million of them!
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
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