Kids are funny. Not as often as inspirational teacher movies, books, and Readers’ Digest columns would have you believe, but often enough.
This week, not laugh-out-loud funny but just situationally silly:
One of our students gets caught cheating on a quiz. He’s barely started the quiz, when his eyes wander over to the paper of the (high-achieving) girl next to him. The teacher takes the quiz away. He starts to protest, then owns up to his cheating. A few minutes later, he’s engrossed in… something. This isn’t a kid who can often be described as “engrossed.” The teacher wanders over and peers over his shoulder, to see him writing earnestly in his agenda: a list of superheroes, labeled “cool” and “not cool” (sadly, few of the female superheroes made the cool category). The teacher, the same one who brought me my Moxie, requests a list of our kids for Monday, labeled “moxie” or “no moxie.” After some verbal acrobatics, we settle on “moxious” or “noxious.” Punchy Friday afternoon teacher geeks.
Meanwhile, one of my kids has told me his vacation story. I’ll spare you the details, but it involved a “hobo” (yes, he really used that word!), a snowball, a chase scene, a plea for help to the police, a misunderstanding which landed him in the precinct getting frisked for drugs, and another snowball bringing the whole thing full circle at the end. I raised my eyebrows a couple times when he told the story, but it wasn’t until I repeated it to some other teachers that I realized it was, while technically possible, highly implausible especially if you know this particular kid. Hobos, indeed.
And then we were lined up in the hallway, waiting for a few kids to get it together for dismissal, when one of the kids started telling me that I might have to get “gangsta” on the stragglers. Thus ensued a conversation about which teachers are gangsta (I am, sometimes, and it’s a good thing; a friend was gangsta for a week, but forgot the next week, not a good thing, apparently they need their teachers to be gangsta or they won’t behave). Another teacher heard me warn them, a few minutes later, that I might have to get gangsta. The kids giggled; she said, “Yes, you heard her right! She really said it!” Oh, you don’t know the half of it, I replied.
The best parent-teacher conference moment ever: I suggest to the parents of a kid who is failing and being mildly disruptive that they can set up a weekly system involving his progress report score, taking away his Playstation when he does poorly, giving it back when he raises his marks. As I describe this system, the kid’s eyes widen and he gives a strangled gasp. I think, for him, it was like watching Nixon’s people plan Watergate, seeing the conspiracy of power in action. Or something; there’s a better analogy out there somewhere.