180 School Days – How a teacher fostered student growth

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My freshmen readers from this past school year. It was the first time in several years students stated that they enjoyed reading.

Teacher. Yep. Like so many of us who are pulled in 36 different directions at once, that’s one of the many roles I have. Mother. Wife. Aunt. Friend. Nurse. Chef. Maid. Depending on the season, Gardner. Sometimes Coach. But some of these jobs overlap when I’m in the classroom.

When I barely escaped my fifteenth year of teaching, which was the 2015-16 school year, I promised myself a project: for the following school year I would write down highlights of each day I was “teacher.” Starting this past August, Monday, August 15, 2016 to be exact, until Thursday, June 1, 2017, I wrote. About what? I had to figure that out as I went.

I started by writing down what I did for an entire day – from the moment I arrived to leaving; what a bore. Then, I decided to magnify a moment during a lesson or a comment; didn’t work too well either. By February, I had a friend read the draft; she concluded what I was thinking – stories about the students were far more interesting than my day to day.

Below are the first few entries of the end result – 180 DAYS: HOW TO FOSTER STUDENT GROWTH: 

Remains of Summer Break

Three Weeks Before: Monday, July 25

They’ve started. Nightmares. This one involved a series of scenes in which I tried to conduct class the first day of school. Only one-third of the class bothered to listen; the rest sat wherever, did whatever, talked to me in whatever manner they choose. Naturally, I didn’t know anyone’s name, so the students took advantage of this vulnerability. And this was my freshmen honors class. An odd point in the dream occurred with the presence of my former co-teacher; he had a stunned look and just stood near the back corner of the room. You’d think after fifteen years of teaching I’d be done with these. I may no longer feared Sunday nights, but that reduction of stress came after many hours of therapy.

Speak of a Sunday night to most teachers, and they cringe. Some start to hyperventilate. Some break into a cold sweat. Some shake their heads, saying to themselves, “I hate these nights.” Anxiety settled in. These nights did not get any better as the school year progressed. Ah…the anticipation of the upcoming week. The idea of never knowing what to expect no matter how hard any of us may plan, like technology, students were unpredictable.

I’ve learned to have a plan, but acknowledge that they change. Sometimes for the good, like if my students were understanding a difficult concept. Sometimes for the bad, when a field trip’s list of students came out less than twenty-four hours before, and half of my students were missing. I’ve learned to take each day as it comes. Don’t fret about tomorrow, when all there is, is today.

 

Three days Before: Friday, August 12

The final Friday of summer break marked the annual pilgrimage when I take my two children with me to work to help me set up my room. For the past ten or so of my now sixteen years of teaching at this school, we were greeted in the same manner we’ve become accustomed to – we weren’t.

When I pulled in around a quarter to nine in the morning, there were a few cars in the lot, but these were construction workers. A while ago, when I was a naïve, young educator, this very parking lot would be filled like any regular work day; I would find my colleagues prepping their rooms, making copies, and catching up on summer events. Work was the place to be before the school year even officially started when the first two days were for teacher institutes. I missed those days of collegial good-will and cheer, but at least I bring my children with me to wonder the desolate halls as I tell them about the ghost in my room.

Even though I had my kids bring their iPads with, they, surprisingly, helped me arrange desks, go through art supplies (markers, highlighters, colored pencils, sharpen pencils), and even wrote a poster of all of the books I read this past summer. This list contained nine or so books, some from our summer reading list and some not. I put up new bulletin boards, put in for a workshop that’s in November, and even put in a much needed technology request. Once I felt we completed all that we could, with desks arranged, updating of supplies, I treated them to lunch at McDonald’s.

My schedule for this year was: period one – planning, period two – Honors English 9, period three – English 11, period four – lunch, periods five and six – English 11, and period seven – Honors English 9. Looking through the lists of students, I noticed some students I had as freshman were now in my junior level English class, along with a few siblings in both levels of classes, which had been a common trend for a while now. Perhaps one day I would eventually teaching their children as well.

 

Semester One, Quarter One

Day one: Monday, August 15

With our contractional work day starting fifteen minutes earlier, I decided to arrive forty-five minutes later than last year. Usually, a teacher’s work day started around 7:45 A.M. and ended at 3:15 P.M., but to accommodate the bus company getting our students here on time, we now started at 8:00 A.M. and go to 3:30 P.M. Please be mindful that these hours were just the set contract time. Yes, several of my colleagues simply put these and only these hours in, but not me and the others who were like minded. We knew that there just weren’t enough hours in a day to get every task done, so we came in early, stayed late, took work home.

As I walked in, I ended up walking beside the school’s librarian who was already stressed out. This was a typical start to the school year. Too much to be reset with too little of time to do so.

For the past eight or so years, the building had various updates starting from the front and going all the way to the back. Finally, the back of the building received its facelift that included the desperately needed air conditioning, a fresh coat or two of paint, complete with a colored accent wall, new tile, new blinds, and new doors. An updated classroom was critical. If a teacher did not have one that works, like electricity, air conditioning, and functioning technology, it won’t matter how good that teacher was or how specular that lesson might be – the kids won’t pay attention simply because they were unable to. The discomfort they felt along with a frustrated teacher would not be a good combination, which would compound upon additional failed attempts at utilizing technology.

A little after ten, the new principal, my sixth principal, introduced the new staff. As of this year, two more of my former students have now become colleagues, making three total with one extra as a substitute. And so the journey began…

 

Day two: Tuesday, August 16

Before I got too caught up with meetings, planning, and student rosters, I sent out my before first day of school email to all parents whom have provided an email address to the school.

Dear Parents and Guardians,

 I am your son’s or daughter’s English teacher for his or her freshman year in high school. Whether this is your first child to enter T.F. South or fourth, I welcome you to this new school year. Tomorrow does kick off the first day of school.

This Thursday, I will be sending home a sign-off sheet with your son or daughter for you to complete. That sheet will direct you to go visit the web site I have for my classes: www.mrs.praser.com. Click on the Honors English 9 title, and feel free to browse this week’s calendar, the course syllabus, course procedures, and any other links. I want to make sure that you know that, in class, students will be using a school issued iPad to complete most of their work. There are a few materials needed though: a pair of ear buds, post-it notes, loose leaf paper (that could be in a folder) or a notebook with folders inside, and plenty of pens and pencils. The post-it notes and ear buds may be left in the classroom.

Also, I hope that your child has read one of the following books – Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief or Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity. We will be having a 25-question multiple choice quiz and a written response next Friday, August 26.

Please feel free to continue to use mrs.praser.com as a resource throughout the school year. Students will be using this web site and Moodle for most of their work along with some other sites as well.  If you need to contact me, email is best since I check that most often and respond promptly.

Thank you and I look forward to working with you and your child this school year.

This initial email started the open door of communication. That way parents immediately knew how to contact me via email. In particular, contacting freshmen parents was critical to avoid them walking into this first-year experience blindly.

 

Day three: Wednesday, August 17

Apparently, the IT department hated my classroom. There was a large amount of technology, or technological gadgets, the former principal bestowed upon the classroom I used. There was the standard issue tech – a teacher computer, printer, LCD projector, and a basic sound system. In addition, I had an ELMO camera that projected from the Apple TV, which had its own iPad, I had my district issued iPad, and I had an iPad cart that housed twenty-eight of those. Yes, I did utilize all of these pieces pretty much daily.

With two screens, I had to organize the desks for students to be able to see both. As a result, there was no front or back in this classroom. My desk was shoved into a corner by the window in what could be considered the back; my computer station was in the opposite corner, what could be the front. My podium was across from this corner by the door, and the remaining corner was for storage.

While teaching, I walked around the room the entire time, confusing the hell out of students who attempted to hide whatever classroom sins they commit. I was like Sauron; the moment a student touched his or her cell phone my eye scalds their brain yelling, “I SEE YOU!” so they would stop reading that damn text and start paying attention.

With today being the first day of school, the IT department made my classroom priority number one since they knew that when maintenance unplugged everything to thoroughly clean, it was a case of Humpty Dumpty needing to be put back together again. But instead of glue and a visible cracked exterior, chords were abounding with no place to go.

In anticipation of meeting one-hundred and twenty or so new students, a brain can get frazzled rather quickly. I made it a habit to show some sort of short inspirational video every first day of school. Instead of showing one of my two favorite Pixar shorts, “Partly Cloudy” or “Day and Night,” I opted for videos via You Tube.

For the freshmen, I found one that showed failures of famous people, like Abraham Lincoln, J.K. Rowling, and Albert Einstein, which was packaged with the symbolism of a runner dutifully going on his daily morning trek carrying a stone that he drops into a pile at the highest peak of a hillside. I talked about persistence, failure being the best teacher, and never giving up despite challenges and set-backs that might come their way.

For the juniors, I found a video about New Year’s that focused on showing various athletic losses and triumphs with narrations from various famous film voices like Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa. I talked about how today was like January first – a day when everything was a new start, not that it was a fresh one, since they did have to recognize any successes and failures that occurred their freshmen and sophomore years, but they did have a chance to turn their lives around to really figure out who was the person they wanted to be.

I had to say that this year all of the students appeared to be receptive with a quiet excitement from within that I pray maintained itself until June, even if I had to stoke the fire frequently with additional motivational moments.

Regardless of their grade level, all students completed an information sheet. In addition to me collecting the usual contact names, numbers, addresses, and emails, I asked the following:

  • Favorite seat in the classroom: Front, Middle, Back, Window, Door, Doesn’t matter (this was helpful in putting together an initial seating chart)
  • Favorite food, candy, movie, book, music/artist, holiday, season, hobbies
  • What’s the best way to celebrate your birthday? Where would you go? With whom? Why? (This one was typically answered with one of two options: “party,” just this word, or “go out with family to dinner.”)
  • What’s a typical Saturday like for you? (This one is typically answered with the one-word: “sleep”)
  • Who do you live with? You can give names or simply relationships. (I appreciate this one since I can longer assume my students live with both a mom and a dad, or let alone, even a single parent, be it mom or dad)
  • Do you have…
    1. Access to a computer with internet at home?   Yes      No
    2. A smart phone that you personally use?                      Yes      No
  • What is your attitude towards teachers? (Circle ALL appropriate answers)
  1. They are here to help students.
  2. All they want to do is get students into trouble.
  3. Some really care about their students, and some don’t.
  4. I have never met a teacher I liked.
  5. I always like my teachers.
  • When you are given a writing assignment, how do you approach it? (Circle ALL appropriate answers)
  1. I look forward to it.
  2. I’m sure I will fail.
  3. I don’t know how to begin.
  4. I think I can do okay.
  • When you are asked to read in class, how do you feel about it? (Circle ALL appropriate answers)
  1. I look forward to reading a book since I understand books better when being taught.
  2. I may pay attention in class, and will not read for homework.
  3. I hate reading period no matter what the book is.
  4. I don’t mind it.
  • When you are asked to speak in front of others, how do you feel about it? (Circle ALL appropriate answers)
  1. I am confident I will do a good job since I will prepare at home.
  2. I need to prepare ahead of time during class and for homework to do well.
  3. I dread speaking in front of others – please don’t make me!
  4. I am always ready and willing to talk; no need to prepare.

Looking through these sheets, I noticed the expected patterns of responses from students – A) they hate to read, B) they do not trust teachers, C) they don’t want to write, D) they don’t want to speak. The freshmen surprised me with most of them stating they enjoy reading; this was a great step up from where I usually started with my students. So my goal of connecting them to new books should be easier to create the norm that reading was cool among students in my classes.

 

Day four: Thursday, August 18

“This is my favorite class,” was what I heard from Piper, a student in my second period freshman class. I had not heard those words in quite a long time. I didn’t know if it was due to me changing my approach slightly this year or if it was due this group of students’ positive attitude about being here, but whatever, I was deeply in love with them…

The previous few years had been challenging. Typically, I’d get many huffy faces, pouts, eye rolls, and even temper tantrums, all starting the first day of school when I briefly discussed expectations.

I recalled last year a freshman honors student asked, “Why don’t you just give us two sheets?” Her flare of attitude and annoyance with me continued to the point that other students felt the need to hop aboard the complaint train right along with her. I did my best to challenge their requests to get them to think that maybe how they were previously taught wasn’t the only way to teach. They would immediately dismiss my ideas and continued to question my role as a teacher. Apparently, they had no clue what Common Core Standards were. They were clueless that teachers had a curriculum to follow. They had no inkling in realizing that busy work did not equal knowledge gained and skills mastered.

There was a second must do item for this second day of school: to play some sort of game. Now, I wasn’t able to do this with my junior classes, but I did with my freshman since these two classes were slightly smaller allowing plenty of room in the classroom.

A classic game that I used goes back to my student teaching, called “Group Juggle.” As long as there’s a bag of balls, a group of kids who do not know each other’s names, and some space, you’re all set. Get the kids, a group of eight to ten works best, in a circle. Give one kid a ball, and have him or her toss the ball to one person. Then that person tosses the ball to a third person and so on until all kids have had the ball tossed at him or her one time. Once they give that a try for a few rounds and keep going, add more balls by feeding them through the first kid. I keep adding balls until they can’t keep up. It’s always interesting seeing how one group of students handles this task versus others. The first period juggled five balls, but my seventh period tried a short-cut of sorts – give each person a ball and then start tossing them together. That idea worked, but when they had the same number of balls as people (in this case ten balls) it was a disaster.

I enjoyed watching the kids laugh, socialize in a constructive manner, and have fun – all of which were daily goals. Seeing the nods of agreement, questions that were an intelligent clarification, and general positive views of this class. I just hoped these views weren’t all a miscommunication.

 

Day five: Friday, August 19

Once surviving the first week back, and not needing to nap daily after school (I wouldn’t be able to if I wanted to), I felt pretty confident about this school year. Previous years, the negativity would be as cantankerous as a cold sore that would never heal so I would feel ugly forever. Even after a visit to a dermatologist, I still wouldn’t be able to heal, until the sun burned it off. I realized that the positive energy might be due to a honeymoon period, but I was praying for it to never wear off.

The main objective for these first three days was to establish the start of an encouraging, yet professional, rapport with my students. A healthy learning environment had been created within the walls of my classroom by not only what was on the physical walls themselves, but, most importantly, what was maintained within. My students appeared to be sociable, yet not intimidated by high school itself or me as their teacher; they were warm and willing to follow, and not question, my lead.

Today’s lesson required my junior students to conduct a little research on their birthday. They had to complete a three step process by visiting different resources to be selective about the information they wish to include in explaining their day. Most students were naturally drawn in to this activity, but even the ones who started to slip into the “zone of no work” –appeared to realize how easy and even interesting this basic activity was.

The assignment asked students to visit three unusual websites to find facts about the date itself, to figure out their birth number, and to discover other related details like their astrological sign, mythical animal, and element. Student enjoyed reading the birth number; once they did the required math, it was interesting to discover who were: “The Originators,” “The Peacemakers,” “The Life of the Party,” “The Conservative,” “The Nonconformist,” “The Romantic,” “The Intellectual,” “The Big Shot,” and “The Performer.”

This lesson not only provided them with the chance to log-in to the main website I use to teach, Moodle, but also they were able to spend some time using the iPads to complete work. I want to provide a no pressure activity for them to practice adjusting to since they are using this tool daily.

 

Day six: Monday, August 22

One part of teaching I just adore was getting to know my students. When I said getting to know them, I meant getting them to explain who they are through writing. I knew I had captured a student’s trust when he or she explains everything about their lives with such sophistication and style that they catch my attention. Since so many students were trained to give the teacher whatever he or she wanted in order to receive the praise of a superior grade, encountering a student who conveys the truth could be hard. As a result, students fall into this trap by tossing aside their own personalities, which muffles their own voice. So far several of my freshmen had managed to catch my attention through composing their informal introduction letter to me.

I learned that a few of my students live in a single-parent home. Rachel was dealing with her parents’ divorce; her mother made her and her siblings move far from the city just to make a visit from her father a rather difficult trip.

Gwen lived in a crowded apartment with her mother and six siblings; her father lived with his girlfriend and her five children, so he never came around. She stated, “It’s very crowded and uncomfortable since I’m not even related to them. But deep down I wish he still treated me like his daughter, like he used to.”

Nicole wrote that she was an only child who just moved here from another city due west of Lansing. She lived with her mother, but commented that she was lonely and depended on friends to fill that void.

Bruce explained that he was raised by his grandparents for the first ten years of his life, and just recently moved back with his biological parents.

Some had families with steps and half siblings. Sandra wrote about her parents, “Unfortunately they are not together…. Don’t get me wrong, I love my stepmom but I would have wished that my parents would’ve gotten back together…what kid wouldn’t?”

When asked to explain what education meant to them, Vito stated that “School means so much to me. My parents only finished sixth grade…because they did not have a lot of money.”

Donnie commented that he wanted to attend college and be a musician.

Oscar wrote that he attended Catholic schools all his life, so this was his first public school.

I knew that over the course of the school year, these students would come to terms with these living conditions and relationships. If not, they might allow these uncontrollable factors influence them in the wrong direction or as one of my administrators said, “Be stuck on stupid.” Through my loving and careful guidance, these kids could realize the potential they had once they accept the person they were. Students needed to understand that they had the biggest influence on WHO they were going to be. It’s not teachers, their parents, a neighbor, a coach, a friend, or even an enemy who could contribute to their change – this process was on them to figure out.

 

Day seven: Tuesday, August 23

I’ve been waiting for it…low and behold, my third period junior class was now up to thirty-one students; I only had twenty-eight desks along with twenty-eight iPads in my cart. Ugh. So I emailed the maintenance foreman for two more desks, now at thirty, so I was still one short; I had no idea where that last one would go, but I decided I would worry about that when the time came. Then, I emailed the principal informing him of the iPad shortage; naturally, there was no more money for another. He told me that he would try to remove the excess students. There was absolutely no way I could require these one, two, or three students to submit work differently than the rest. Within a day, my class size did resume to its natural twenty-eight.

In the English office, I was talking to a second-year teacher who also worked with freshmen. Her and I discussed round and round about how so many students act like they were entitled to get an A. If they fell short of this ideal grade, we were to blame. This idea was not only one carried by these students, but also their parents.

Whatever condition students comes to us in, we had to make efforts to chip away the façade that he or she had put into place. A typical façade was of a teacher hater and thug. Over time, that false front might crumble to reveal the person who knew who he or she wanted to be in life. That was the challenge of teaching – reaching those students who had flat out rejected their teacher starting day one. Teachers must remember to not take this rejection personal. The rejection, itself, went much deeper, beyond the here and now, back to previous experiences that caused the initial dismissal to set permanently in stone. But keep in mind that even a block of stone, even one that had been shaped, can take on another form.

 

Day eight: Wednesday, August 24

Each day there was a moment when people do something stupid. Same went for teachers. These circumstances typically evolve when students corrected a teacher, me, when I made a mistake. Now, with each and every time I would make an error, I thanked the student and used his or her comment to clarify the information. Then the lesson moved on, no harm no foul. I knew that I was not perfect (I’ve never said I was). These corrections made by a student about a teacher were good; they reflected the fact that students were paying attention and that they were questioning the validity of the information being taught.

But, there were a few times when students made a game out of picking on Mrs. Praser. Spelling errors, which I merely repeated from their peers’ errors, used to demonstrate the correction in an obvious fashion. With each deliberate error, these students made their correction demean me in a rather rude, cocky manner. I attempted to explain my strategy, but it was ignored since they concluded, “My teacher was an idiot.” The attacks were the result of students becoming rather frustrated with the quantity and quality of work they needed to do. This rigor was beyond what they were accustomed to. The reason for their frustration was valid – they were not prepared. So instead, they blamed me for the lack of their knowledge and needed someone to take their feelings out on.

A majority of my freshmen attended a junior high where homework was never assigned. Typically, students, from grade one on, should receive an average of ten minutes of homework per night, per grade level. So these freshmen should be able to get through ninety minutes of homework a night with no problems. That school had set their own students up for failure; these kids had no clue what was expected of them in high school. Any homework completion became an impossibility since complacent was the standard and awarded for idleness, so they failed to adapt to a successful student routine. Since lessons build upon homework completion in addition to what is taught day-to-day in the classroom, these students fell hard. Who once was rewarded with A’s by completing sheets, were now earning C’s.

At times, there were moments when these aggressive attacks escalated to an uncomfortable learning environment for both teacher and students. The respectful students wanted to learn; they had been waiting to avoid mundane tasks that required them to regurgitate teacher only information. The disrespectful students did not realize that they had allowed themselves to be placated into thinking that this type of teaching, by learning information purely through rote memorization or just listening to key words and ideas from their teacher’s lectures, was the only way for them to learn.

Good teachers, teachers who were in this profession for the students, want to hear, read, and see what their students know. I could go on forever about all I knew regarding certain subjects, but who really cared? I knew that I was educated, but that was not why I became a teacher. I was a teacher to teach these kids to think for themselves so they could learn in the manner that worked best for them; these manners they needed to be exposed to through my coaching. I refused to use my classroom as a stage for me to demonstrate how much of a smarty-pants I was. The kids were the center of the classroom, like the sun; I was simply one of many orbiting planets checking on their progress.

 

Day nine: Thursday, August 25

Today was the annual freshmen life lesson on the importance of doing homework. In years past, I required students to read the three short stories via a PDF posted on my website for them to read on their own over a few nights for homework. Most never read it. To circumvent the failure, I adapted this expectation by giving each one of them a printed copy, along with me reading the first part of the story with them to demonstrate what annotations were about and what was clearly expected. In my second period, fourteen of the twenty-two students did not complete the required work. Better than last year, but still not one-hundred percent.

When I addressed this concern, instead of the non-stop eye roll, moaning, and groaning, I received all nods from these kids after my lecture. Basically, I told students that there was a reason why I assigned work: so we can build upon the course material. I asked them: Do you really want me to spend class time reading this story to you? Many of them weren’t sure how to answer. I explained that I did read the whole story to the regular students and even show them what to annotate, but was that the kind of work they really wanted to have in an honors class? If the class was too hard, I invited them to visit their counselor and drop down. I did my usual Martha Stewart demonstration: I had one hand raised, stating this was you the smart honors students, and then I lowered the other hand, parallel, explaining this was what some of you wanted me to do. I refused to lower the standards of an honors class simply due to their poor habits.

Attendance was another issue that came up today, specifically, chronic absences due to truancy or medical reasons. I had an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) meeting for one of my junior students. Apparently, Lexi had many absences last year due to asthma; I didn’t know if her reasons were legitimate or not. I had a student whose asthma was so bad he was hospitalized for several weeks and even on life support for a while. These were unfortunate circumstances, but sometimes these “conditions” were abused.

A few years ago Alice had extreme digestive issues; I’m not referring to a major peanut allergy. This student was allergic to just about everything, so for the majority of her education, she was home schooled. She enrolled during what should be her junior year, but I found out at the end of that school year that she had enough credits from her home school transcript to place her as a senior.

Over that year, her absences continued to escalate, which resulted in her earning a low grade. I would call Alice’s mom and talk to her not only about what work was missing, but also how to parent her daughter who was in a public school. I would give Alice’s mom advice on how to pack lunches and snacks to monitor Alice’s blood sugar, organizational strategies, and even developing a routine for her to follow during the school day. Alice was a student I made a point to keep an eye on; not only was she introverted, but she had this scratchy, high-pitched voice and would call me, “Miss Kim.” I did not realize that I became a preschool teacher overnight. Clearly Alice and her mother were lost puppies who may drown during a violent storm if left to fend for themselves.

The kicker after all of the time and effort in helping her and her daughter, was when Alice’s mom blamed me for her poor grade as June approached. Alice’s mom was appalled by her daughter’s low G.P.A. especially after accumulating a 4.0 through home schooling, but in the public school setting, she barely made a 2.0.

At that meeting to confirm Alice’s credits so she could graduate, her mom showed her true colors. She insisted I never communicated and left her and Alice lost in the vast wilderness of missing work. I stuck to my defenses through tedious detail all of the assistance I provided, but that, at times, was never accepted. This help extended even when Alice was absent for a few weeks with no communication from her or her mother. I requested that Alice come in every single morning to meet with me, so I could help her get caught up; I was stood up each morning. At one point, Alice’s mom even referred to me as “Miss Kim.” Obviously, her daughter’s needs were best left at home with the services she was receiving before entering this school’s halls. I found out later that the other faces at the meeting were told to keep quiet; I was never given that directive and would have ignored it anyway. I spoke up by maintaining a calm, but firm voice that expressed the truth of the situation. Alice’s mom remained silent by the time I was through. In the end, Alice did graduate, but not as one of the top of her class.

 

Day 10: Friday, August 26

Today and yesterday, students, by grade level, were required to attend the annual rules assembly conducted by the Deans’ Office. In thinking of these rules, which now were enforced by interventions courteously of SB 100, I was reminded of several rules breakers over my course of years.

When I was just starting, once in a while a student would decide to take a smoke in boys’ or girls’ room, but this one day, one of my sophomore girls actually left her cigarette pack under her desk. I had no choice but to turn it in to the Deans’ Office.

Another time, again a sophomore student, but this time a male, actually left a notebook under his desk. As I looked for a name, I realized I was glancing at gambling spreadsheets for various bets taken. When I turned that one over, I discovered that I had single handedly shut down his whole system that was going on for months; the deans just needed evidence.

Remember, this was high school, so the hormones rage like wild animals. Fortunately, I was spared the following, but two of my colleagues were not. There was a room behind the upper balcony in the gym used for PE classes. This one day, it was left unlocked, leaving two horny teenagers to take advantage of the free space. Two female teachers happened to be walking by and heard groaning. When they ordered the banging from behind to stop, the male student stated, “I ain’t done yet.” The unfortunate teachers were stuck waiting for the couple to finish, so once the students dressed to escort them down to the deans’ office.

Recently, there had been additional incidents like these occurring in bathrooms, unlocked classrooms, and even on the school’s mini-buses. But instead of sex being a secret act between two students, an audience was requested. With the dawn of social media, the third person now records the dirty deed, sharing it was the world. Yes, the police did get involved. Yes, having a video like this was considered to be child pornography. Yes, if anyone was caught with it, be it shared or received, there were serious consequences. Whatever happened to doing this act at home when your parents weren’t around?

 

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