i just turned around for a second. okay, it was longer than that. i was disciplining a student for not paying attention in my american history class. and then it went quiet. that’s how i knew that something was terribly wrong. these high school juniors were never quiet. they were smiling too. something was definitely up.
i turned around slowly and immediately saw a student glance at the window. and there was justin standing in the frame. outside. just waiting for me to notice. i didn’t know what to do. i was frozen, trying to figure out what was the best action. and then i just did what i wanted to do. i shut that window in his face. he didn’t even realize it was happening and just stared at me with his mouth open as i threw the lock lever over and it clicked in place.
“ma’am? let me back –” he started.
“nope. don’t want to hear it. go around,” i told him, and motioned for him to walk around the school. i knew all the outside doors were locked except for the front one. he’d have to get past a principal or two before he could make it back to my room. i knew he’d get caught on his own.
i turned around to face the rest of the class, not knowing what their reaction would be. they were shocked. they hadn’t expected this from me. it was only a few months into school. they hadn’t been welcoming to me. they had tested me over and over again to see if i could make it. and to see if i really meant what i said on the first day of school – i care about you. i was twenty-two years old and had no idea what i was doing most of time time. so far, they’d played so many tricks on me, pushed me on everything, and laughed at my expense. this time, i had turned their trick back on them.
i couldn’t help but burst out laughing. and then, they did too.
it was the turning point for me and my students during my first year of teaching. all it took was for a kid to jump out the window.
sure enough, my principal brought justin back to me about twenty minutes later. he got several detentions for his stunt. but i can’t help but be grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to laugh with my students. he did me a favor. he reminded me that i needed to stop taking myself so seriously and to have a little fun. humor was my foot in the door.