Sunday, April 3, 2011
Our school gives students the opportunity to attend assemblies or not; those who choose not to attend may go to the cafeteria to hang out. (I don’t understand the concept of choice in this particular case, nor do I understand the point of many of our pep assemblies, but that’s for another post.) Students head to their destination—gym or cafeteria—and stay there for the duration of the assembly.
Unless they don’t want to, apparently. After having one kid slip through a cluster of teachers to “take a call” outside of the gym on Friday, I saw another grab his backpack and skateboard and dismount the bleachers as well. Making a joke to a colleague about this sudden exodus, I followed and stopped him, explaining that he actually needed to stay until the show’s over. He muttered something, turned away, and kept walking. I followed, slightly annoyed but still calm, and called out “Sir.” (What do you call a 15-year-old you don’t know?) He turned and began muttering again. I repeated my initial message, to which he informed me that was “too bad,” for he had chosen to go to the cafeteria.
Again, he walked away. This is when I wished for a lariat … before remembering that even if I had such convenient means, I couldn’t expect to lasso the kid and avoid a pink slip. Dang it. That’s when I wondered if this battle was one I should bother with. Unwisely, I opted to keep going, especially since I was fairly certain that I could convince him to just stay, because after all, while I was putting a crimp in his plans, I was also being level-headed and reasonable.
The kid nodded to the teacher, and on his way to the cafeteria, gave me a long, cold, prideful glare.
We lack influence and authority over students, and many of them know that and exploit it. They can do what they want because what’s the worst that could happen? Lunch detention? We have, as one of my colleagues puts it, a situation where the inmates are running the asylum. But in asylums, the inmates wear straightjackets; here, the teachers do.