[Editor’s Note: Aaron R. Davis has the week off, so yesterday we brought you a special Lost-themed Murphy’s Law and today we bring you the triumphant return of high school teacher and former HoboTrashcan columnist Ned Bitters, who is here with a special guest column sharing his favorite moments in the classroom this year.]
Another school year is almost over, and while that means that the daily stress will also end soon, so too will the daily belly laughs this job provides. No matter how shitty a day might be in a public high school, a teacher with the right attitude – or even my gone-south attitude – can, if he keeps his ears and eyes open and his overall job perspective in focus, find something hilarious every single day.
GREAT MOMENTS IN TEACHER MATURITY, I:
Our extremely successful basketball coach transferred to another school in our district after most of his star players graduated last year. His four-year tenure resulted in two trips to the State Finals and several scholarships to decent schools. He went from our school, the ugly stepchild of the county, to the fancy new Taj Mahal school, which he hated immediately. He would send daily emails bemoaning the fact that the kids behaved, came ready to learn, never cursed in the halls and (I gotta take his word on this one) actually listened to teachers.
So, he decided to stick it to his highfalutin’ new school and show some love to the shitstorm he deserted, a.k.a. my school. The two times his new school played us in basketball, he called all his old players in the days before the games and gave them detailed scouting reports on each of the players at his new school. He wanted to see his old dirtbags (most of them used to get pregame, in-school hummers from some of our skankier girls) trounce the goody-goodies at his new school. It worked both times.
GREAT MOMENTS IN TEACHER MATURITY, II:
The following argument took place in a packed classroom this year:
Bozo #1: You’re an asshole, and every kid in this school hates your guts!
Bozo #2: Go ahead and keep cursing. You know you can get away with anything because you know your old man will clean it up, just like he cleans up all your messes.
Bozo #3: Come out in the hall right now!
Bozo #4: No, but I’ll see you in the parking lot after school.
At this point you probably expect me to describe how some teacher then mishandled this brewing bout of fisticuffs. But alas, no teacher stopped this, because this dispute took place between two young male teachers in a classroom full of kids. (The one’s father works in the school, hence the shot about his pappy smoothing over all his bullshit.) No fight transpired. No administrative discipline was issued. No kid who saw it didn’t have his month made by their pathetic display of immaturity.
GREAT MOMENTS IN TEACHER MATURITY, III:
As ol’ Ned Bitters becomes Old Ned Bitters (I ain’t 50 yet, but I can see the light from it’s balding head peaking over the horizon), the kids have a lot fun at my balding, graying and wrinkling expense. I don’t mind it. I have a lot of fun with it, actually, because it allows me to do what I do best. (What’s that? Teach? Oh, my goodness, did you really think that? I’ll have to add that absurd bit of speculation to the next volume of hilarious moments.) No, it allows me to talk shit to the kids.
Years ago I noted the “Inappropriate Comment Line,” rubbed that sucker out and never paid it no mind again. Here’s one of the milder examples of how I handle the playful abuse I get about my getting closer and closer to death due to old age. I said something (I have no idea what) that showed my age a few weeks ago, and a senior I know well said, “What? Well, I guess you would say that, Bitters. I mean, damn, you are about 80 now, right?” I could have taken offense. I could have laughed it off and said nothing. But such responses are for pussies … and adults. So I said, quite ruefully, “Yeah, that’s about right, Antonio. I can’t go more than two times a night with your mom anymore.” Game, set and match, Mister Bitters.
GREAT MOMENTS IN PARENT MATURITY:
Our principal came into a staff meeting and said he was having a hard time focusing on the agenda at hand. He said he just got off a conference call with the fathers of two girls who have had repeated run-ins at school this year. They haven’t fought (yet), but they’ve come quite close to it, and their actions have disrupted classes, the cafeteria and the hallways. How did one of the fathers (I’ll call him Daddy Detente) propose that their two idiot kids resolve their problem? “How about we bring the girls up to the so-and-so playground tonight at 7 and let them fight it out right there in front of us.” The principal somehow talked them out of that crackerjack plan. The two girls still have not fought. At least in school. I assume they are both still getting top-notch parenting at home.
GREAT MOMENTS IN FRESHMEN MATURITY:
For six weeks this winter, the freshmen, who are usually the worst-behaved kids in the school, ramped their bullshit up three notches, engaging in daily fights and getting written up by teachers for classroom hijinx at an alarming rate. So the freshmen vice-principal had the brilliant idea of calling the entire freshmen class into the auditorium for a reaming-out assembly. His plan was to shout and shame them into better behavior, because after all, they’re only 13-14 years old, and most are still at the maturity level where an angry screaming adult will make them feel bad. Riiiiiight.
He gets them into the auditorium and manages to get them quiet. Not one kid is making a sound. The vice-principal, no doubt feeling like Dr. King before the “Dream” speech, began his prepared remarks, ready to move these miscreant teens into a change for the better with a stirring bit of inspirational rhetoric. His first line is, “You have been called here as a class because of some very serious issues we’ve been seeing with you.” The silence continued. He has them. He can do this. He can affect mass behavioral change with his passion and eloquence.
His second line was, “According to school statistics, the freshmen class has twice the amount of referrals and three times as many fights as any other grade level in this school!” And here the silence ended. Pandemonium ensued. The entire class started applauding and hooting in self-congratulations. Kids were standing and giving high fives. A “Class of ’14!” chant started. The assembly was pretty much over.
The fights and referrals continued. Another assembly was not held. And so far, I have not laughed harder in school this year than I did at that moment. Hey, the kids can make fun of my age, but I’ll be damned if I’ll they’ll ever be able to make fun of my maturity.
Ned Bitters teaches high school and dreams of one day seeing one of his former students on stage at a strip club. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.