Friday, May 14, 2010

My Own Reality Show

I have decided that I am the subject of a reality show I have not been told about, sort of like The Truman Show with Jim Carrey. And the goal is to create as many weird situations as possible in my classroom and see how successfully I can still teach.

I got this notion in my head yesterday when a pair of jeans was mysteriously left in my classroom. “There’s a pair of pants in here!” someone declared. Without even looking, I told them to put the pants over with the other clothes that have been left over the year. Later on, another student discovered them and tried to peddle them. But nobody bought them so they are still there, draped over a milk crate. I don’t recall seeing anyone leaving class without any pants on, but then again I also missed it when Kurt removed his pants for a few seconds on a dare during 3rd hour. What was I doing that I could miss that? I guess you’d have to review old posts about my 3rd hour, but it could have been anything from breaking up a game of Ninja to assisting an asthmatic who keeps forgetting his inhaler.

But it’s not just third hour. Today during 6th hour (my very best class and the closest yet to a traditional classroom atmosphere), just after we had gotten quiet and begun reading Romeo and Juliet, Timothy* suddenly reached out and slammed his fist down on the water bottle on Ian’s desk, sending it crashing loudly to the floor. A stunned silence ensued, during which I buried my face in my hand, then continued reading with no further disruption. I found out that later that Ian had fallen asleep and Timothy was attempting to wake him up.

We aren’t allowed to let students sleep; we have been told more than once that principals don’t want to see any heads down. But I don’t care anymore and here is why: yesterday I suddenly realized that my 3rd hour had fallen quiet and learning was taking place. I looked around to find the key performers of the usual circus were out cold, and whether it was a coincidence or they had all partaken of the vodka that some students were found putting in the slushies at lunch, I was quite happy. “I know people are sleeping,” I said pleasantly to the rest of the class, “I’m just going to let them sleep.”

It's never as bad in 1st hour, when nothing much happens beyond someone calling out, “Does anyone have any gum?” But I wasn’t prepared for 7th hour when out of the blue Trey turned to the class and asked if anyone knew how to juggle. I asked him why he needed to know that and he said that that he wanted to learn. And that was that. I guess nobody knew because I’m certain they’d have stood and demonstrated.

Kenny took 3rd hour to a whole new level of chaos yesterday when he jumped up and ran out of the room. I took off after him just in time to see him leap into the air and smack one of the hallway ceiling tiles, then start back into the classroom. “What are you doing?” I asked him. He replied, “Keith told me I couldn’t do it so I showed him.”

It’s only the mornings before the kids enter the building that bring some peace and quiet, but even those can present unexpected events: this morning I found a cell phone on my overhead projector. With the help of some kids during 7th hour, we discovered it belonged to a senior. I tracked down the senior and found it had been stolen from him that morning. I had never seen this kid in my life, but whatever kid (out of the 2100 at CCHS) stole his phone chose to leave it in my room. Because clearly my room contains a divinely-installed vacuum that sucks all reason and order within a 50,000 square foot radius.

And don’t think it ends after school either. Some of the kids are just getting started. Today I had my usual crew hanging out when suddenly Kelsea (“Voice of Condemnation” for those that know that story) burst into my room to spill a confession to me about having falsified her identity to the office today. I can’t figure out how I went from being the target of her hatred to her priest, but nothing fazes me anymore.

She then handed me a cell phone that she had just found in the soccer field. She knew whose it was, but didn’t want to be in possession of it in case it had a tracking device. I found it interesting that my day began and ended with a missing cell phone, but in a few minutes the owner came to claim it. I didn’t know him or the two friends he brought with him, but within the few seconds they entered and exited my room, one of them had managed to fasten a condom over the doorknob. Before I could even react, the male teacher next door suddenly stormed onto the scene. He demanded the names of the offenders and made them throw the condom away. (So of course, it went into my trashcan.) I pretty much just watched all this wordlessly. Because, like I said, I’m the subject of a reality show and am now viewing it with detached curiosity.

Somewhere in that black hole of chaos, there is a cosmic camera installed for the amusement of some divine being. I foresee a second Genesis: “In the beginning, God created Mrs. West’s class. And it was without form..."

*All names have been changed