Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Saturday, April 05, 2008


Short, But Deadly

I had a nightmarish experience last week. I had a fifth-grade class in our school's auditorium, transposing theater vocabulary words into concrete objects to help them study for a test. (Which the vast majority of them failed any fucking way, an event so depressing as to drive me to serious goddamn despair.)

Our auditorium, unfortunately, is also used to warehouse students during lunch when it's raining outside. Which meant that, while I was attempting to show my students what a "flyloft" is, there were an assload of noisy, annoying seventh graders seated fifteen feet from us.

Before the story proceeds any further, a little background information: I teach at a K-8 school. We've got seven periods a day and lunch runs Third Period through Sixth. So we've always got at least two grades at lunch at the same time. Eighth graders have lunch at the same time as third and fourth graders, the fifth grade and the sixth grade share a period and first and second graders are together with seventh graders. While younger kids are in the cafeteria, the older kids are outside or, as was the case on the day in question, in the auditorium.

After ten minutes or so of my fifth grade class being utterly and completely distracted because of the noise and because of not being interested in what the fuck an orchestra pit is, I decided to bag it and take them back up to their room, there to finish the review in a quieter setting.

As we went to leave the auditorium, though, we ran into an obstacle. A massive bunch of first graders was standing in the hall, waiting to come into the auditorium. Now, when I say "waiting", I don't mean to imply that they were calmly standing there in neat lines, standing by for permission to move forward. No, instead, they looked a lot like the orcs laying siege to Helm's Deep in The Two Towers. The auditorium lay in front of them, ready for the plunder, and their progress had been slowed by this teacher bringing older kids out. And the orcs weren't happy. No, they weren't.

As if my opening the door had been the signal they'd all been waiting for, they began an unearthly screeching and shoving and surging. They jumped on one another. They bounced off the walls and fell back to the floor. It was like there was a mosh pit going on around my knees. It was as if I'd fallen into one of those rooms filled with thousands of plastic balls, but instead of plastic balls, it was filled with first graders. It seemed as though all those tiny bodies had fused together to form a toddler Kraken, which would pull me down to my doom.

Seriously, those little fucks stomped all over my feet. And the noise! Sixty or so first graders screeching wildly in a small cinder-block hallway is not easy on the ear drums.

Finally, some adult behind them started jabbing them with a cattle prod or something and they began to make their way into the gym. I then collected my fifth graders, who had been highly amused at the way the post-toddlers had physically menaced me, and went upstairs for more ineffective vocabulary review.

Teaching: the toughest job you'll ever wish you didn't have to fucking do.