Getting to work early one morning, I spied a "Soccer" mask sitting on a chair by my desk The same soccer mask pictured here, although that is not me in the picture. Another teacher had brought it in. Halloween was a couple weeks off. I decided to try on the mask. With no one else there, I put it on and walked around the office for a few minutes before it became uncomfortable. I took the mask off and put it away. About a minute later one of my students came in.
"What were you doing?" he asked, his voice accusing. He seemed uneasy.
"I saw you. I saw you walking around with a mask on. I could see you from outside. Why were you doing that?"
"There was no one else here," he pressed. "You had no reason to put it on. Why? Why did you do that?"
I felt he was near becoming hysterical. I shrugged and went back to sorting through the papers on the desk. The moral here for teachers, is always keep your students off guard. Just a little. Especially in alternative education.
Sometimes, the edginess comes with a little assistance.
I remember in the middle of an American History lesson this one student declared that he was leaving school to go to McDonalds. I smiled and told him no, attempting to redirect class back to the lesson. He proclaimed that as he was eighteen, he could do what he wished. I again smiled and told him that if he left the school without permission, which would be a violation of the handbook rules, that he would not be allowed to come back for the rest of the day. He could wait for lunch and then go.
"I'm going to McDonalds," he said, standing. "And I'm coming back. And there's nothing you can do about it."
Ah, the sweet smell of oppositional defiant disorder.
He left and returned about thirty minutes later with a McDonalds in hand. Striding into my classroom, interrupting yet another lesson, he sat and started to enjoy his meal. The other students looked at me, eager to see my response.
I told the student to leave the school. He refused. I explained that he should leave voluntarily, before more dire consequences followed.
"What are you gonna do? Throw me out? Call the police? What are they gonna do? Throw me out over a McDonalds? What an ass."
The kids looked at me, then at him, then at me. He grinned triumphantly, sucking on a shake, eyes gleaming. I nodded and pulled out the cell phone. Within ten minutes the police chief walked into the building. This was my first time meeting him. I was almost embarassed. Almost.
"What's the problem?" he asked me.
"I went to McDonalds," the student said before I could speak. "I'm eighteen and I went to McDonalds."
"Did he tell you that if you went you couldn't come back?" asked the chief.
"So, you were told you weren't allowed to return to school?"
"I'm eighteen. He can't tell me what I can and cannot do."
The last we saw of him that day was through the classroom window. He was being helped into the rear of a police car. Hey, he was eighteen.
I remember hearing one kid whisper to another: "He called the cops over a McDonalds?"
Another student responded: "He told him he was gonna do it. The idiot should have left. He had a chance. He got what he deserved."
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