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Adventures in Teaching: The Underwear Encounter

Updated on May 23, 2010

 

I think it was my second year teaching at our local high school. For some unexplained reason, the really hard-to-handle students were often given to the teachers who were on the lowest rung of the metaphorical totem pole, and I was definitely scraping the bottom. I had the least seniority in the English Department.

 

This “class from hell,” as I fondly referred to them, was fourth period, which made things even worse. You see, this period was split by lunch. By the time I got this rowdy group settled down and working, they were getting ready to go to lunch. After lunch, they returned to my classroom, and I had to repeat the process.

 

Supposedly, the class rosters were done by computer, but a friend of mine who was one of the administrators looked at my fourth period roll one day and informed me that there’s no way a computer could have put this group of students together in the same class. These reprobates had to have been hand picked, and I know now exactly who did it.

 

Allow me to tell you about a few of these kids. Three of them had stolen the head football coach’s truck the previous year. One was 20 years old and still in the 10th grade. Several were known drug dealers who came to school only to make deals. Two had been expelled the previous semester for fighting – at school. Another had threatened a teacher. One is now sitting on death row for several murders.

 

Such was the makeup of my class. Among all these current and future criminals was one sweet, shy, not-too-bright young man named Sean. I always felt sorry for him. I think he was actually afraid of his classmates. He never talked in class, not even to other students. He never asked any questions, either.

 

At the beginning of the school year, we had added a new rule to the dress code. It required students to wear proper undergarments to school. This rule was made to hopefully solve the problem of large girls with huge bazooms not wearing bras. Sean, however, was having trouble interpreting the new rule.

 

One day when the lunch bell rang, Sean remained in class. After everyone else had bolted from the room to get a good place in the lunch line, Sean stayed behind, obviously wanting to speak with me in private. He approached my desk with his head down, shuffling his feet.

 

“What’s up Sean? Aren’t you going to lunch?” I asked.

 

“Yes’m, but I gots to ax you a question,” he replied.

 

“Well, that’s what I’m here for. How can I help you?”

 

“Ummm…I needs to know ‘bout that underwear rule. How often is you gonna check our draws? And what you gonna look for? Is you gonna see if they clean, or if they have holes in ‘em, or is you just gonna look to see if we’s wearin’ draws?”

 

You’ve heard of people biting their tongues? I literally had to bite mine – hard – to keep from erupting in laughter. This poor little fellow actually believed that all the teachers were going to be underwear Nazis and regularly check out the students’ panties and briefs!

 

After I somewhat regained my composure and swallowed a substantial amount of blood from my mangled tongue, I explained the reasoning behind the dress code amendment. He beamed a huge smile of relief. In fact, I think that was the first time I had seen him smile.

 

After that encounter, Sean began to relax in class. He started seeking after-school help, and he no longer acted intimidated in class. He wasn’t afraid of his classmates, after all. He was worried about his teachers checking his underwear!

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    • Hedocurus profile image

      Hedocurus 5 years ago from Olive Branch, MS

      Bwahahahahah! I taught high school history for three years and I completely understand. That's a good one though.

    • profile image

      Husky1970 6 years ago

      habee, I hope you realize what a factor you were in Sean's life. It is moments like these in teaching that are the most memorable and gratifying. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • ElemTeacher profile image

      ElemTeacher 6 years ago from Fort Collins, Colorado

      Hey there! Awesome hub! I just started writing one about the elementary grades. I would appreciate you taking a look! Your hubs are so funny. I'm trying to be funny and informative for parents. I've taught 20 years and thought I could share my knowledge. Keep up the GREAT work!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for visiting, Nemi!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Truth stranger than fiction, Wendy!

    • Nemingha profile image

      Nemingha 7 years ago

      Great story, many thanks for the laugh!

    • Wendy Krick profile image

      Wendy Krick 7 years ago from Maryland

      That was a really cute story. I can't believe he literally thought he was going to get his underwear checked. Poor kid.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Link!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Yeah, Silver, I was like, WTF???

    • profile image

      Link For You 7 years ago

      Interesting and informative.

      Nice hub!

      You write very well. You must try on my link too, you can start earning on Tr^on$ from first day itself..

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 7 years ago

      Wow - poor Sean! I'm glad he got it sorted out though by asking the right person. I'm still shaking my head that they gave you this particular class and then split it with lunch. That tops the charts for stupidity in education. JammaGenee summed it up perfectly.

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Hostage - you're not the first person who has suggested this idea! lol

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      2Patricias, that's so sad. Great that he learned to read!

    • ahostagesituation profile image

      SJ 7 years ago

      Great story! And a round of applause for America. Teachers should run the country...at least you know what the future is up against!

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 7 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      You are very brave, teaching a class like that!

      I have a very sweet man who helps in my garden. He went to a Special School for children with 'learning difficulties' (the school has since closed). He has said that he learned nothing there because he was so afraid of some of the other pupils. He learned to read after he left school.

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Nancy, you came to the right place!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Ramk, glad it gave you some laughs!

    • nancy_30 profile image

      nancy_30 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you for another funny story, I needed a good laugh.

    • ramkkasturi profile image

      ramkkasturi 7 years ago from India

      I was laughing as I read this.Interesting and very humorous too. enjoyed it. Hope you come out with more of this type.

      Ramk

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Lol, Ethel - I love that!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Oh, Prasetio, I bet you have some good teacher stories, too!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Audrey, Patrick sounds like my oldest - Mandy!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Jen! I seem to attract them. lol

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Central Oregon

      That's hilarious, Ethel! And a little frightening - although I'm beginning to think these fellows sound a lot like what I'm faced with here in Prinetucky....

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Ha in the UK we would say he was Brain of Britain lol

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      As a teacher, I give big appreciation for this hub. Great for inspiration. Thank you very much, Habee. Good work and two thumbs up for you.

      Prasetio

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Central Oregon

      Sounds like something my Patrick would have said - although he always had clean drawers! He has always been brilliant but unfortunately denser than a box of rocks when it comes to common sense! Love the dialogue - must have been a hoot and a half to teach those boys. Good job on holding your tongue - one way or ta' other.

    • JenDobson27 profile image

      JenDobson27 7 years ago

      Too funny! You sure do have some interesting stories :)

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Bpop, I usually had a great rapport with my students! I really miss them!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      HH, this class was not typical. Most of my classes throughout the years were actually pretty well behaved.

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Jama - "over-paid idiot." You said it all there!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Veronica, it was sad and funny at the same time!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      True, FP - you always have to be on your toes!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Ann, I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      I thought about that, Lee, and I'm SO glad he asked me instead!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Lizzy, I often taught adults, too, but I really loved the teenagers!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      I know, Mulberry! Poor little fella!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Sam, I loved working with teens!

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 7 years ago

      It seems to me you have the amazing ability to get through to students of all kinds. Even if you reach only one in an entire class, you've done some good. Poor Sean...

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      You are a marvel dealing with people like that. I couldn't. I don't know if it is the same in America but in England they spit, calling the worst names, hit them and smash up furniture. The teachers are not allowed to do anything. I am very calm, almost over calm, phlegmatic person but that I wouldn't and couldn't take it. The classrooms here are mayhem. Most of them just abide the time and now mostly properly, as you said, go there to deal with drugs. They come out barely can read or write and some even can't. Its unbelievable.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Poor Sean! Thank heavens our city has a separate high school for troublemakers! The idea of grouping the worst of the worst in the same class in a "normal" school defies logic. And what over-paid idiot came up with the idea of splitting fourth period for lunch? Perfect example of school admins having the right credentials to get hired, but NO common sense or willingness to think outside the box.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Msorensson, they changed the wording of the dress code the next school year!

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia

      Oh my goodness! Poor Kid .... I can't even imagine what he was feeling thinking that he was going to get his underwear checked on a daily basis! To be a fly on the wall that day ..... :)

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 7 years ago

      I read a book the other day in which the principal of a girls' school insisted on checking the underwear of the students...resulting in a huge furor over violation of civil rights! I'm sure dealing with students is like walking a minefield...you never know when you might take a wrong step.

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 7 years ago from Virginia

      Wow! What an incredible job you had, Habee! This is amazing stuff. It made me think of the teacher in Freedom Diary. And oh my goodness! Sean is something else! What a halirious story! There was really two sides to the coin on this hub! The tough macho men, and the shy english challenged student. LOL Too funny and great story!

    • Lee B profile image

      Lee Barton 7 years ago from New Mexico

      Oh, habee, this brought back so many memories from my 25 years of teaching! Poor Sean! But it was so fortunate that he felt he could talk to you. Can you imagine what would have happened if he had asked one of the other kids?

      I recently read some new research that said that, startlingly enough, maybe students with problems would benefit from having experienced teachers. Duh! I wonder how much time and money went into that study!

      And those classes split by lunch! I wonder whoever thought THAT was a good idea. The horror! The horror!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 7 years ago from Oakley, CA

      I salute you! I could not handle kids like that. I did a few years' stint as a Girl Scout troop leader--a role rather forced onto me when I wanted my girls in Scouts, but no troop existed in the area, and no other parents stepped up.

      There were kids in my troop I wouldn't take across the street, let alone on a camping trip. The parents seemed to consider Scouts as a free (or very cheap) babysitting/child care service, and refused to help.

      I moved on to training ADULTS in outdoor skills!

    • mulberry1 profile image

      mulberry1 7 years ago

      Too funny! He probably lost a least a night or two of sleep over that before he finally asked.

    • samboiam profile image

      samboiam 7 years ago from Texas

      habee, what a delightful story. I salute you for the years of service you gave to teaching our youth. I don't think I could have had the patience for it.

    • msorensson profile image

      msorensson 7 years ago

      Oh my God..I thought you were kidding...about checking underwear..lol. Why did't they say "bra required? "

      Does the school still do this?

      The encounter with Sean was funny..