The Cleansing of the Classroom

 


After a leave from teaching this fall, I returned to work, taking up my customary position as the feared dictator of a grade-five classroom. The physical space is tight this year. Twenty-eight students are crammed so close together…when I have an EA helping, she doesn’t even have a place to sit. Yes, my classroom “needs to be at least three times as big.” So, discipline is a must.

 

The first day I was so busy laying down the law and making threats, that I didn’t have time to teach. For as Machiavelli wisely states, “it’s better to be feared than loved.” But on the second day, it was time to get busy.

 

“Silent reading time!” I barked. “And I mean silent!”

 

“Aww! Do we have to?” echoed a chorus of shrill voices akin to being stoned to death with popcorn.

 

“Yes!”

 

“Mr. Millette!” came a challenging voice from the back, “I think I need glasses?”

 

“Why!?!”

 

“Because I can’t see any muscles on you!”

 

Very feared.

 

That first silent reading session lasted not even five minutes. There was a flood of restlessness. When a mean teacher glance was given, a student would quickly look down at the pages before him for a few seconds. If that student was lucky, his books would even be the right-side up.

 

What pages, exactly? Graphic novels, of course. Graphic novels everywhere. Glorified cartoons. Pictures with a few meaningless words tacked on, discussing potty humour, female underwear, and what causes one to throw up.

 

I looked over at the EA. An older lady from older times. She was seething.

 

“We have a problem,” I stated. Captain Obvious.

 

“Yes we do,” she agreed, smoke rising from her ears.

 

“The attention span of a goldfish,” I proclaimed.

 

Finally, she just said it: “What is your position on graphic novels?”

 

It was not a question but a challenge.

 

“They make good fire starter,” I admitted.

 

A hint of a smile, just a hint, rose from the upper corner of her lip.

 

I must cleanse the classroom,” I stated boldly.

 

And I did. By that I mean I got the heck out of the way of the EA.

 

She flew in with righteous rage and determination! Tables flew over! Books went flying! At one point a cord was created with shoelaces and sticky tack, and pages were whipped with relentless fury.

 

“Get out!” she screamed. “You have made this place a den of stupidity!”

It was the cleansing of the classroom. I think it went something like this, anyway.

 

Four Weeks Later

 

“Time for reading.”

 

Quickly a legion of novels are open on desks. The pages are right-side up. Some are Little House on the Prairie. Others Number the Stars. And one girl, bless her heart, is reading Disconnected: The Broken Path (my new favourite student!). Most students read silently. A few ask permission to read to each other in the hallway. It is peaceful. It is right. All is well.

 

And the EA stands alongside. A hint of a smile on her stern face.

 

Probably because I am a feared leader.

 

 


Need novel ideas? Check out my Adventures of a Misfit series!

 

My Blasted Town

My Rocky Mountain Challenge

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