Exit Laughing


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. 


I know this word.  I was a teacher.  All teachers know what it is for a student to at least try to disrupt a classroom. Sometimes they succeed. Usually they at least get something stirring for a few seconds, but a seasoned teacher knows how to squelch the trouble before it takes over.

How?  Well, it’s hard to explain.  There is no hard-and-fast formula.

Having a sense of humor helps. If the teacher can laugh when some kid pulls a prank, then it won’t take the class long to settle down.

I had a kid who was a senior when I had him in class for the first time.  I knew he had a reputation for pulling silly stunts, but he seemed fairly quiet and subdued in my class–until, one morning, we were standing to say the pledge to the flag. I turned to the flag and started to say,  “I pledge. . . . . Vincent?  Take them down.  Now.”  I was laughing. It was funny.


There was a beverage distributor on the property next to the school, and Vincent had gone and asked for a couple of tap handles. He’d put the m over the end of the sticks that held the flags.

Come on.  It was funny.  And because I laughed, so did everyone else. We got past it, he took them down, and nothing more was said.

There was another boy, maybe a sophomore, who loved to tease me about being short.  I walked into my classroom after lunch one day and found him on his hands and knees.  !  He had taken wide masking tape and created a highway on the floor.  It must have taken him the entire lunch period. He’d made a dividing line on his road with  an ink pen, and he’d brought Matchbox cars that he’d distributed  along the road.  When I came in, he was yelling, “No, no!  Look out, Mrs. K. There’s a truck coming!  Stop!   STOP!!  Oh,  NOOOOOoooooo!”

I could always count on him to be entertaining, for sure.  Those kinds of disruptions are not meant to be rebellious.  They’re just normal kids having fun, and it’s important to remember that people don’t tease you if they don’t like you.

Then there was the kid who always ate two bean burritos at lunch, then went out and played football or soccer.  By the time he settled into his desk, his digestive system was working overtime. The odor was horrible, but he seemed to be completely oblivious.

After a couple of days of putting up with this incredibly rude and obnoxious behavior, I decided to hit it openly.  I said, “If any of you know who is creating this nasty stink, I want you to take him out behind the maintenance shed and smack him around for a while. I certainly won’t tell on you.”

They were astonished, because fighting was a BIG no-no.   Must have scared the offender, because he came to me after class and told me he was the culprit, but that he couldn’t help it—besides, in his home, everyone did it. It was just normal.

There were eight kids in the family.  Minnesota has very cold winters.  You don’t open your windows.  I’m glad they never invited me to dinner.  I think I would have fainted.

Well,  I let him know quite succinctly that if he didn’t find a way to deal with his problem outdoors, I would get the other boys to hang his behind out an open window until he was gas-free.  It seemed to cure him, because there was never another odor in that classroom.

Sometimes peer pressure is the perfect tool to use to stop disruption.  That, and a sense of humor.









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