School Teacher: Funny Teaching Moments
It is time to take another look at some of the funnier events I have witnessed during my eighteen years of teaching. Since the last installment of this series highlighted a fellow teacher and a student, I thought it was only fair to turn the spotlight on yours truly and tell you about one of my more embarrassing moments. I wrote this while I was still teaching a few years ago but it is as applicable today as it was then.
Having said that, I ask you to kick off your shoes, grab another cold one, settle into your comfy chair and prepare to laugh your butt off. Are you ready?
SETTING THE STAGE
If you teach in the state of Washington, you are as familiar with the earthquake drill as you are with how to cash your paycheck. Earthquakes are a reality in this fine state, and you would be hard-pressed to find a teacher who is not familiar with the mantra”duck and cover.” Never mind that the average desk is much too small to completely protect a student, that most asses are in serious danger should the ceiling begin falling. The most important fact to stay focused on is that teachers and students are well-trained in this supposedly life-saving but actually futile drill.
Another drill has recently been added to our monthly tasks. Ever since a town named Columbine burst onto the scene with all the subtlety of a mortar round, we have all learned what to do should there ever be an intruder in our building. It is still amazing to me that the first time we practiced the Intruder Drill, the kids participated without a question, like it was the most normal thing in the world that we were anticipating that one day someone with an automatic weapon would open fire in their place of learning. Quite a testimony on life in the twenty-first century, don't you think?
A FLY IN THE OINTMENT
Just as the Earthquake Drill has a major flaw, namely the loss of every ass in the building when the great shake, rattle and roll begins, the Intruder Drill also has some glitches. Let me describe, as best I can, the drill itself and then we'll see if you don't agree that schools might want to revisit the procedure at their next faculty meeting. In our school, if there is a fire, the school bell will begin ringing and will not stop until the building has been declared safe. For the Earthquake Drill, a buzzer sounds and it continues to buzz for a full minute. These two warning sounds, the bell and the buzzer, are basically the only two warning sounds that we had at our school. Thus the first problem with the Intruder Drill....what sound gets the ball rolling? It was finally decided that the principal would blow an air horn if an intruder entered the building in a threatening way. Of course that brings to the forefront what constitutes a threatening gesture? I suppose if someone is pointing a rifle at you that we could consider that threatening. Heck, I’ve had some irate parents who I considered pretty threatening. Anyway, the first time we scheduled the new drill the principal was home sick and nobody could find the air horn. We've since found in the budget money for a couple more air horns and stationed them throughout the school. Okay, first flaw eliminated.
When the air horn blast is heard, teachers are supposed to move their students to the side of the room adjacent to the classroom door, out of sight from the door. Okay, we tried that....and then realized that an intruder could simply walk into the room and shoot thirty kids rather easily since they were huddled within ten feet of him upon entering. So it was decided that the classroom doors should be locked during school hours, thus preventing intruders from entering. Unfortunately, it also prevents everybody else from entering, and twenty to thirty times a day the teacher must interrupt lessons to open the door for everyone from the visiting parent to the kid returning from the bathroom. All in all not a workable solution.
While that fly in the ointment was being considered we also realized that directly across from the student hiding place was a wall of windows which provided easy viewing for any would-be assassin. In other words, while hiding from the intruder entering through the door, thirty students could easily be gunned down by his accomplice standing in front of the windows. Bottom line: the kids are not safe if someone wants to shoot them badly enough.
THE BIRTH OF A PLAN
Having finally resigned ourselves to that realization, we set about constructing the best possible plan. Upon hearing the air horn we would herd the kids against the wall next to the door; then the teacher would lock the door; then the teacher would close the blinds for all windows; then the teacher places his or her own body out of harm's way. With this new, improved drill the students are fairly safe and the teacher doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving. I wasn’t liking this plan very much but I managed to keep my mouth shut.
MY EMBARRASSING MOMENT
So we finally tried out our new Intruder Drill. We were all fore-warned that the drill would happen shortly after one o'clock. Nice to be fore-warned about these things, as if a real intruder would be so courteous. But the warning does prevent most of the teachers from the inevitable heart attack if there were no warning and the air horn sounded, so I'm not complaining. At precisely 1:05 that afternoon, while I was dispensing various wisdoms about the Spanish-American War, the air horn sounded. I sprang into action, instructing the students in a very calm voice to get under their desks and cover their heads. After a minute had passed by I told them they were safe and had them quietly leave the building to the designated safe spot outside. To their credit the kids followed instructions perfectly. Yes, that's right, had there truly been an intruder, my kids would have been hiding under their desks, pointing their asses at the madman holding the AK-47, and then after a minute they would have marched right past him and gone outside. Under my professional guidance their only hope would be for a collective fart, thus rendering the gunman incapacitated. Hey, I never claimed to be perfect.
ARE YOU LAUGHING AT ME?
I have no excuse for my lapse of intelligence at that moment. I was so accustomed to the earthquake drill that I immediately said “duck and cover” when I heard the air horn. What can I tell you? Even the experienced teachers will occasionally choke under pressure. I can assure you that I heard about that mistake for months afterwards and deservedly so.
THE BONUS ROUND
Yes, I’m going to give you a bonus laugh because you have been so good about reading my first mistake.
I was teaching science one day and talking about organisms in our everyday world. At some point during the instruction I picked up the pen and wrote on the white board “orgasms.” The room became suddenly very quiet as thirty kids tried to decide if it was safe to laugh. Finally one brave soul raised his hand and asked me if it was common for Nature to have an orgasm.
At that point I laughed so hard I thought I was going to cause internal damage. Then my next thought was what happens when the kids get home and tell their parents I was instructing them about orgasms. I could just imagine the meeting with the principal as I tried to explain that one!
Turned out the parents thought it was the funniest thing they had heard in a very long time. Several of them told me later that their child waited until dinner was served and then told the whole family about my orgasm lesson. Let me tell you, those kinds of mistakes do not go away. A full year after that happened I was still hearing from parents and students about it.
THERE ARE MORE BUT YOU’LL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL NEXT TIME
Like I said in an earlier article, I’ve got a million of these, so never fear, there is more coming. Right now, though, I need to go find a bigger desk that will cover my butt the next time we have an earthquake. After that I think I’ll write organisms fifty times so I don’t make that damn mistake again.
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
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Tell the truth: Did you ever feel like the desk at school would protect you in an earthquake?
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