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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Send me your devils and other signs of trouble.

As a school principal in a small middle school, I never saw the good kids except at graduation, when they picked up the medals, the awards, the applause of their families and friends.

I sat mostly with the devils, the troubled, the misfit, and their parents.
Double trouble, children and their care-takers.  Usually, they acted and thought the same way.

I don't have many memories of angelic events, the great sports and musical performances, the national and regional awards  such events brought to our school and were immortalized on the halls of our institution.

No. I only remember those children/adolescents who had worn out their welcome, and their teachers' patience, and were sent to the office to see me, The Principal.  Sometimes, the secretary had them waiting for me in the reception hallway, between boxes she was emptying, keeping them in a useful mode of sorts. When I'd ask her why she hadn't send them to me right away, she'd admit that they were good at helping her out, and that I needed a little respite between cases.

I remember my first suspension. A young man in a ceramic class.  The substitute on that particular day was young and delicate, her first assignment in middle school. When the noon bell rang, she walked the young man to the office with the evidence he had created, a perfect anatomical representation of a male part.  The assignment was to make a vase.

The secretary got him lunch, and then put him to work emptying boxes until I was available to see him.  His art work sat on the front desk the entire time!
When I returned from lunch duty, that art work was the first thing that I saw.
"What's this?"
"Oh, it belongs to ...He's waiting for you."
"Send him in!"

Now, you know that the artistic merit of that work of art is not and was never in question.  When his mother was called and the situation described to her, you know what she said?
"He must have been bored to death!"

Ah, these scenes have not left me yet.
Perhaps I should write them all down and.....

41 comments:

Brian Miller said...

ha. he must have been bored...i wish my mom would have believed that...and she was a teacher...yes write them down...its so fun to see the devils sprout wings though, dont you think...

Hilary said...

I was one of those parents that spent a fair bit of time at the school.. coordinating events, helping out in class... etc. As a result, I got to know a few of the teachers and the principal quite well and was privy to a number of those kinds of stories. I remember printing out a list of items which I found online, and posting it in the staff room for the teachers. The one that your post prompted was:

You know you're an educator.. when meeting a child's parents instantly answers the question, "Why is this kid like this?"

;)

Ann Best said...

I've heard many stories such as these--parents' reactions to teachers' complaints about their "perfect" children. It's chilling.

Patricia said...

Your post brought back so many memories. I taught 3 - 5 grade for 18 years in a "previous life" and I must say that there were times when it was the spirit and ingenuity of the "little devils" that captured my heart the most! But there were also days when I looked forward to a glass of wine that evening!

NormalToEatPB said...

I think it's a shame that the good kids don't get more attention from principals and otfher school staff. Speaking for myself, sometimes it was hard to be self-motivating and self-encouraging. . .

Eva Gallant said...

I taught in high schools for 17 years and, having been a bit of a handful myself, I seemed to have an affinity for those students. In all that time, I only encountered two students that I truly disliked, and one of those came back to see me after he'd graduated and told me I'd been his favorite teacher! I found that a sense of humor helped me deal with those students that other teachers fund difficult.

Bill Yates said...

Wonderful post; reminds me of my years as an elementary school principal. I still remember the second-grader who kicked a hole in my office wall...

Anonymous said...

I'M IN MY 70'S. MY PRINCIPAL HAD A LARGE PADDLE. IT DIDN'T MAKE A DIFFERANTS HOW OLD YOU WERE YOU GOT IT ACROSS THE BACK SIDE. WE NEVER HAD ANY TROUBLE IN OUR SCHOOLS EXCEPT WHEN SOME KID WOULD GET INTO A FISTFIGHT MAYBE OVER A GIRLFEIEND. YUP, THEY'D GET THE PADDLE. WE NEED THOSE DAYS BROUGHT BACK AGAIN. JUST DON'T LEAVE BLOOD. A BLACK AND BLUE REAREND WILL HEAL. LOL, MANNERS ARE OUT THE DOOR ANYMORE.

GRANNY

Smitty said...

Quick question. Do I identify myself as a bad parent, if I wonder if the boy must have been bored?

Was the issue of making a penis.... truly a bad thing?

Not that I would want my son to do something like this, mind you.. but I did chuckle at the story.

Kathy said...

My oldest just started middle shcool this year. He told me that he hardly ever sees the Principal, that the students have the most contact with the Assistant Principal. I thought that this was a shame because I really like the Pricipal. Now I am so glad he dosen't see her! Yea! I now will pray I never get to know her!! (lol!) Thank you for sharing your experinces with us. And thanks for visting me at mydishwasherspossessed. I appreciate the support!

Phoenix said...

LOL! I'd like to say that I'd love to hear more of your "war" stories, but I'm sure too many of them might be too depressing to relive again. I can't believe his mother defended his "artwork" and didn't have the decency to at least make him apologize! Wow...just, wow.

Cloudia said...

That was valuable and informative!





Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

><}}(°>

cheshire wife said...

I have to say that there were some subjects that bored me to death, at school.

Footprints of Peace said...

I enjoy reading your blog aloud to my husband. He and I think you are great. I am going to share your story with a teacher friend of mine on FB. I think she will get a kick out of reading your posts.

Arkansas Patti said...

Yes, there is the makings of a book in such stories.
Sadly, I am pretty sure my principals remembered me.

MerCyn said...

I met students exactly like yours in the business school where I taught for several years. Then I was placement director and had to help get them jobs. Some never grew up, but a few became productive adults. I've always thought the place and the people would make a great a sit-com.

Natalie said...

Bahahahaa!
We are at the point where it is almost time to enroll Noah at the local school.
Unfortunately, I have had many dealings with the parents of this suburb (after putting the older three in this school)and guess what?

We are moving!!!

yaya said...

I have a good friend who is a teacher and her complaints were very similar to your post..I told her that all jobs have the good..the bad..and the ugly..I guess the key is deciding if it's worth the pain...I left work today from the hospital amid drama, anger, pain, and tears..and that was the staff. Look on the bright side..you're retired! I on the other hand will have to work until I'm 80!

She Writes said...

Indeed. Some mothers often turn a blind eye to their children and excuse them right into wrecked lives. It's sad.

THE OLD GEEZER said...

I was practically an angel when I was in school. NOT! :-)

Back in the old days when I attended school "corporal punishment" was my middle name! OUCH! I can still feel those swats from the gym coach and the V.P.

And by the way my mom and dad were always on the side of the school officials.

Take care and have a great week :-)

~Ron
******

L. D. Burgus said...

He certainly shocked the young teacher and really did get all the attention he wanted. A simple vase wouldn't get your attention.

potsoc said...

The kid could really have been bored, but then again a penis in a U.S.A class, ouch! As Burgus said, he sure got your attention.
Wonder how a mature teacher, male or female, would have reacted?

Retired English Teacher said...

Yes, I guess he was bored and quite uncreative when left to entertain himself...

Lonely Rivers said...

The largest crowds in the history of the Seattle Art Museum turned out for the Picasso exhibit last month. Just saying.

fiftyodd said...

I think the teacher should have kept a straight face and simply admired the artwork. Perhaps he had seen the British film "East is East" which deals with mixed marriages and culture clashes, English/Pakistani. Very funny film, especially when the artistic son brings home a large sculpture of the female parts which is handed round to the women folk of the bridegroom's visiting family.

#1Nana said...

Do you really want to relive those memories? I'm subbing at the middle school on Thursday...I'll probably have some new stories for my blog.

Granny Annie said...

A friend's second grader came home this week with a self-portrait he drew anatomically correct She found it cleaning out his backpack and explained this was not appropriate for school. I could not help but wonder why not? Isn't one of the tests to get into kindergarten a drawing by the child to count his or her readiness by the number of details they include in their drawing? This second grader had simply advanced appropriately:)

becky said...

What's a girl to do?!?!?!

the walking man said...

I tutor a kindergartner 1 day a week. It is his second year in school. And every teacher, staff member and yes even the principle knows his name...not because of his academic performance either.

God I love that unable to focus kid.

NitWit1 said...

The mother was a hoot. I think he had some kind of complex but won't go there.

Kids do strange things. I once thought I wanted to teach as I idolized my teachers, but as I matured into the higher grades, I saw reasons I should reconsider my first ambition.

janis said...

I have mixed feelings reading this. My girls went to a few different schools & I got to know the Principals fairly well. My girls were very good students, I still felt a need to get to know them. We had different relationships with each.
When I worked @ the Catholic School where they attended, I made sure that the children that came to my afterschool program had a clean slate.I told the teachers that wanted to share horror stories about some of them to keep that info for the parents, not me. I wasnt going to punish or harbor ill feelings because of an incident that has already been hashed out. I had a few kids that were constantly in trouble during school hours but for me they flourished. A Mother told me years later, when her son was in college, that I gave him hope. That they appreciated so much that I gave him that clean slate every day regardless to what had happen in the classroom. He begin to build some self esteem & realize people believed in him. I also refused to share with the teachers negative info of mishaps happened during afterschool. That was for the parents to decide.A small school, lots of gossip, some of these students didnt have a chance.
As the years past, I also made sure my daughters knew their principals and other staff. Regardless to what they felt, they were taught to ALWAYS show respect. I always tried to thank and recognize the good students, & staff throughout their years in school. It is a shame that so many good students never get the attention due to the problem students requiring so much.

FABULOSITYNOUVEAU.blogspot.com said...

such cute memories, although i'm sure it was anything but....at the time. :) thank you for sharing.

Moannie said...

I would have loved to teach but I know I never could have, I would have always sided with the bad kids.

Do please write the book..it would be a best seller.

Ruth said...

What a task. To be principal and have to decipher what the child is really doing, saying, acting out (if they are). My husband teaches 4th grade, and there are so many stories of the ones who need that extra care. He very reluctantly sends them to the principal, only as a last resort.

It's interesting about not seeing the "good" students until graduation. Reminds me of how it feels to be in a family with a rebel who gets all the attention, while the ones who "behave" attract less.

Bz said...

It would definitely make great book material! yes, yes! write it all down! I love to read more... :)

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

I remember these kids. I taught spanish to hormonal middle schoolers.

tattytiara said...

I love his mother's response!

Donna said...

My parents and two children wereare teachers who have had their share of these stories. They make wonderful eye rolling stories at the end of the day over dinner. A sense of humor was the best but all felt discipline of uttmost importance ....or the pack runs wild!!!

Dimple said...

I laughed!
As a former "good kid" and the mother of one "good" one and one not-so-much, I can identify with both sides of this...

SAB said...

As a teacher of the younger ones too and long retired, I often wonder what became of those "devils" I had in my classes. I found them the spice in the teaching pudding. I imagine some have had interesting lives.

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