Thursday Tidbits

Posted on February 27, 2020 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

Learning new lessons every day


“The best laid schemes of mice and men go oft awry.”
To a Mouse. Robert Burns

I would respectfully like to add children to that short list.

Speaking of creatures, I am a creature of habit. I am a big fan of order, structure, and routine. At least I used to be. After a few days of teaching up north, I packed these notions away along with my summer clothing.

This is not to suggest that order does not exist at my current place of work. It’s just defined differently.

When I look back, my working life has been spent almost entirely in meetings. My jobs all involved meetings. Ditto for my years as a town councilor, school board member and the countless non-profit Boards that I sat on. I won’t count the thousands of hours at various choir practices, masses and funerals. All of these things had a defined start and finish time. Some weddings didn’t start on time but I found funerals pretty reliable.

My school runs by a schedule but within these boundaries, each teacher must figure out the internal rhythm of their class depending on class size and composition. As the newest (and oldest!) teacher in the school, I did a lot of observing trying to find the right balance between compassion and strictness. I figured that the compassionate route suited my status as an elder but lately I realized that it was time to tighten the reins a wee bit. After a lot of trial and error (more errors than trials) I decided that a new set of rules need to be implemented.

I met with a young teacher in the school. She is one of those people who have “it”, that elusive quality that makes some people especially suited to their craft. I asked her for suggestions on classroom management. The topics were cereal, water and bathroom breaks.

Armed with fresh strategies and renewed vigor, I addressed the class, clearly articulating the new rules. I was firm but fair. One of these new rules was about trips to the washroom. These have become almost as common as trips to Costco at Christmas time. Now, if this was a class full of senior citizens, I might buy the notion of frequent pit stops to the can. If a septuagenarian put up his hand and asked, “Can I go to the bathroom?”, I might be inclined to answer, “Depends.”

I told my young charges that there would be no bathroom breaks while I was teaching. The instructional parts of my class typically last 20-25 minutes. I went so far as to suggest that I wouldn’t entertain a request let alone grant one during this short window of time.

I started teaching my lesson.

The oxygen had barely been expelled from my lungs when one of my bathroom “regulars” put up her hand. “Can I go to the bathroom?’ I was slightly dumbfounded with the timing of the request. The request was quickly denied. I didn’t even have to utter the word “no”, such was the scowl on my face.

I turned to face the Smart Board to continue teaching when I heard this deafening bang which almost caused me to wet my trousers. The student hadn’t taken kindly to my rejection and unceremoniously tipped over her desk, including a fresh bowl of cereal, a bottle of water, and the contents of the desk.

My capable and ever reliable classroom aide was able to take the student to the office.

As I was leaving the school, I was stopped in the hallway by the teacher who had given me the sage advice earlier in the day. “Well Len, how did the new rules work out this afternoon?”

I just grinned and slipped quietly out of the school.

As Staples would say, “That was easy”!

Have a great weekend.

P.S Please put your hand up if you need to go to the bathroom.

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Highland Hearing Clinic

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