Thursday, May 17, 2012

Explosion in Room 25

We've all had a class like this. The one where a Ritalin salt lick would be a good thing. This is my fourth hour class.  And today, with only three days left of school, it is hard to contain them, yet alone, engage them...

The bell rings. They slide into seats, beg for the bathroom, talk a little smack with each other.

"Hey. What did you do in English?"
"Mrs. Day, can I go to the bathroom, PLEASE?"
"Where's Pitz? Is he skippin' again?"
"I'm here. I don't skip"
"Sam, are you first today?"
"Hey, Mrs. Day. I think Sam's ready to go."

He stands at my podium--actually, he is draped over it. All arms, legs, and mouth. I swear, the boy never stops moving or talking. There is an easy fluidity to his movements.

"Yea, Mrs. Day. I'm ready."
"Give me a second. I'm taking attendance."

We begin.  There are five "graduation" speeches scheduled in this class today. Each one should be five to seven minutes long. This is the semester final. I give my traditional speech about paying attention, not laying heads on their desks, keeping their eyes open, being respectful in general.  And they do. They are not bad kids and they really try to sit quietly and listen.

Sam is the first presenter and the rest of the class listens attentively. We always do--you never know what Sam will come up with. As usual, his delivery style in conversational and easy. If he'd practice, he could be outstanding. But that would take a little work outside of class, something he isn't willing to do for speech.  He's rather farm.

The next four speeches drone on.  Some fast, some slow. Some well done, some not so much.

As I listen and grade, I also watch the rest of the class.

Feet tap.
Leg bounce.
Fingers drum.
Between each, there is a frantic chatter, like they may never get to talk again.

All quietly. But you can feel the energy building.

11:25. The last speech ends. I take a breath. Paper clip the grade sheets together. And mentally prepare myself for the last minutes of class.

"OK. We aren't going to try and fit another speech in. You may sit and visit quietly until the bell rings."

11:26. Four boys explode out of their desks.  Really. Explode.

And land at the door. They disappear to the alcove outside my room.

"Back in here!" I yell in my best teacher voice.

"Come on, Mrs. Day. I wanna sit in the comfy chair."


All the while they move into the room, but crowd the doorway. If I don't do something, they'll be back in the hallway, and the rest of the class is up and moving now too.

It's 11:28. 4 minutes.

A sword fight begins with my yardstick. One smacks the other. The yardstick changes hands. I grab it.

"Go ahead, Mrs. Day. Smack me."

I just laugh. I position myself in front of the door handle.

"Mrs. Day, I think we're running short of air. I just need to open the door a little." Sam reaches around me and opens the door a crack.

"Mrs. Day, he's right. It's bad for all of us to be in this room with no fresh air."

"The window is open in the back, You're fine."

There's movement. Constant movement. Like those ant farms you could buy as a kid.  Always something moving somewhere. Slapping, moving, talking. They're everywhere.

11:32. Bell.

I survive.


  1. Hmmm - never thought about a Ritalin salt lick, but I like it. "Hard to contain them, yet alone, engage them" - that is exactly how I'm feeling right now and we have 12 days left!!! Only 2 days left . . . hang tight!

  2. Love the description and that you handled it just right. Too bad the speeches didn't last a few more minutes... Have a fabulous weekend. We have 12 1/2 more days!

  3. I have to say when I read "ritalin salt lick", I laughed out loud. Hang in there. 2 more days.