Friday, January 26, 2018

Rolling In The Aisles

I probably shouldn't post this, but it was just so perfect and, I suspect, it's something almost every teacher my age has at one time or another been tempted to do.

It's been a fun week, but a long one, made even longer by the cold, wet weather. The kids have been cooped up more than usual, not at school, but in the rest of their lives, naturally. It shows up at school as the need to move, to shout, to rough house, and to laugh. It also means more conflict, more hurt feelings, and a general intensification of our time together. These are days when adults joke about there being a "full moon."

Yesterday afternoon, following a week during which we lived on the edge from moment to moment, terrific days, but intense ones full of big feelings, big bumps, and big weather, we assembled on the checker board rug to end our final day this week with a story. Some of the kids got hung up in the mud room, removing soiled boots and whatnot, so I was just goofing around with the baker's dozen who had made it through the obstacle course of door matts, sinks, toilets, and parents just arrived to to pick them up.

The kids were rowdy. One girl danced back and forth at the back of the room while the rest yucked it up over what I expect was the word "poop." There was a general almost out-of-control vibe.

I was suddenly 12-years-old again, a boy in a library study carol at the American Community School in Athens, Greece. It had finally been my turn to check out the Cheech & Chong comedy album. There were turntables in these special nooks and my friends and I, one-by-one, took our turns sitting alone and listening to what may not qualify as classic comedy, but nevertheless had a big impact on the younger me.

For better or worse, I began to channel the Sister Mary Elephant bit, the one where she says, starting meekly then ending with an all caps roar: "Class . . . Class . . . Class . . . SHUT UP!"

I said, "Class . . ." in a falsetto which drew their attention, something that it did not do for Sister Mary Elephant. I was so pleased with the effect that I said it again, "Class . . ." This time they laughed. Great, I thought, we can do this until the rest of the kids assemble. "Class . . ." Even more laughter.

Kids were trickling in as we played the game, meaning that each time I said the word "class" in that high pitched voice, the volume of their response rose.

Then by way of explanation, I said, "When I was a boy, there was a funny teacher named Sister Mary Elephant and she always said, 'Class . . . Class . . . Class . . .'" More laughter. They were all there by now, eyes on me. I was, for better or worse, doing a show so I went with it: "Class . . . Class . . . Class . . . SHUT UP!" The crowd went freaking wild. They wanted an encore, so I did it again. Then again. Then again. They were laughing from the bottoms of their bellies, looking into one another's eyes, laughing into one another's mouths, connecting through their collective joy.

Figuring that if I was going to be fired, this would be the way I'd want to go, we did it again and again and again. My throat is still sore. Next time, if there is a next time, I'll remember to finish with the polite, "Thank you," the way Sister Mary Elephant did. They'll be rolling in the aisles.

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1 comment:

Rafer Nelsen said...

I'm sorry I missed that one! Might have to switch from Tuesday work day to Thursday one of these rainy weeks...