Monday, September 21, 2009

Let the punishment fit the crime

This past weekend at our school a certain club hosted a tournament. We got notice to batten down the hatches in preparation for wild animals teenagers dressed in suits let loose on our campus.

I spent at least a half hour on Friday putting away everything that was not nailed down, including the entire contents of my desk drawers, my desk chair and comfy reading chair--all into my cabinet that is not big enough to hold all that. Mary Poppins would have been proud. I left the building grouching about having to do that...

I made sure to get to school early this morning so that I could set up my stuff again. I walked in and my podium was halfway across the room, chairs were all over the room and desks were in disarray as if the Tasmanian Devil had been doing some competing. It wasn't even that the desks were put back in the wrong place--clearly no attempt, even an incorrect attempt, was made to clean up after themselves.

My desk had papers and paper that had clearly been pulled out of my printer (paper theft is a capital offense among teachers) along with a dictionary and some random detritus. You all know how I take these things in stride, right? I stomped around, trying to find the team sponsors. How are these kids allowed to be without adult supervision? How are they allowed to trash our rooms every single year? Why do the sponsors and/or club not check the rooms after?

So... my first class of the day is my AP (Advanced Placement) juniors. They're all involved in activities 24/7, so I was banking on one of them being in that club. A few kids came in and started to try to help me clean up and I said, no thanks, we'll wait until a team member shows up. I know they already think I'm insane, so this was Ms. Crazy, Round 17. Some poor kid walked in and was unfortunate enough to admit to:

a) being in that club
b) having actually been in my room and gee, they didn't clean up did they?

Um no, you didn't. But that's okay. I believe in second chances. (I didn't actually say that out loud)

Haha. He cleaned up. For at least 10 minutes--not counting the break he got for the US & TX pledges and the moment of silence. I barked orders at him--move this here, move that there. The other kids were staring at us slack-jawed. I also barked helpful phases that your mother said to you such as: I AM NOT YOUR MAID!

The thing is, I remained fairly calm about it (at least when the kids were in the room). And all I did was make a kid move some chairs and desks and a podium and... IN FRONT OF HIS PEERS. I bet he'll be careful in the future, at least in my room.

And the cherry on top of the delicious three-flavors of ice-cream and toppings and jimmies and whipped cream sundae? The kids were talking about me in other classes, about how mad I was and how I made the kid clean up. Sometimes having your children fear being shamed in front of their classmates is not such a bad thing.


kelli said...

You are my hero. Seriously.

Kate said...

I'm so pleased! High praise indeed from a parent and teacher of other people's children. =)

Alli said...

Love it. A little shame goes a long way (and never hurt anybody).

I'm gonna venture a guess and ask if it was the Speech and Debate team.

Mary~Momathon said...

I bet word spread like wildfire! And you are right, that type of behavior should be corrected. If they do that to classrooms, they'll do it to hotel rooms and they aren't as forgiving. You probably saved the team from worse by teaching them, via the one, to clean up the classroom!