this recent essay at the Washington Post's web site prompted me to recall the first time that I took the helm as a classroom teacher of a high school class:
All of you former students: you did not design curricula, plan lessons, attend faculty meetings, assess papers, design rubrics, create exams, prepare report cards, and monitor attendance. You did not tutor students, review rough drafts, and create study questions. You did not assign homework. You did not write daily lesson objectives on the white board. You did not write poems of the week on the white board. You did not write homework on the white board. You did not learn to write legibly on the white board while simultaneously making sure that none of your students threw a chair out a window.If only my first test as a teacher able to control a room full of students had been limited to the possibility of a student's tossing a chair out a window!
Almost as soon as the bell had rung, Kerry, a ninth grader over six feet tall and an above-average student academically, stood up and announced to the entire classroom: "I'm gonna piss out the window!" He then proceeded to unzip.
I had visions of someone below our second-story window being doused.
I had visions of losing my university's sponsorship of the required interval of student teaching.
I had visions of my losing any possibility of obtaining my teacher certification.
I don't know how I kept my composure. But I did.
I didn't even raise my voice or drop my vocal register into the gutteral range. I calmly stated: "The men's room is down the hall."
AOW: "That, too, is down the hall. In the men's room."
Laughter all around, and Kerry sat down. He never challenged me again. No disciplinary action was taken, either — at my request. No point in feeding a frenzy.
A few years later, I ran into Kerry at our local Wendy's. He and I both laughed as we remember that day in the classroom. He said: "I wasn't really going to piss out the window, you know. I just wanted to see how you would react. Good thing you didn't say 'boys' room'. If you had, I might have had to prove that I wasn't a boy."
Those few moments in 1973 are moments that I'll never forget.