Sorry for Window Hopping

16 Dec

english

Yesterday, one of my students jumped through a window during class.

I’m not shitting you.

Sure, it was a ground floor window. And sure, it was more of an “athletic hop.” But nevertheless, a student projected himself through a window.

I was teaching a class of twenty-year-old high school students. Teaching twenty-year-olds at the age of twenty-two is about as effective as I imagine a Justin Bieber soliloquy would be to the Queen of England – during which he tries to convince her to denounce tea and admit that Prince George just isn’t really that cute.

Usually, I get up in front of the class and I smile. Then I shush them. Then I smile again. Then I try a louder “SHUSH.” Then I look to the teacher with pleading eyes. Then I “shush” until I accidentally spit on the first row. Then I wipe my mouth. Then I speak confidently in English and tell them to “please listen.” Then I speak (less) confidently in French and tell them to “please listen.” Then I take my top off.

Just kidding. I could literally take my top off and this class would continue with their own chatter. (That’s not a reflection of what’s underneath my top, but a reflection of the class’s interest level…I hope…)

So you get the picture: this class doesn’t give a flying FOOK about me or my English or my American anecdotes.

We were thirty minutes into a one-hour lesson, during which the students were supposed to describe the photograph that was projected on the board. Not critique the photograph. Not re-create the photograph out of paper mache. Just describe the photo.

(To keep you all in the loop, it was a photo of a bedraggled looking job recruitment lady giving information to a “hopeful fireman” at a job fair.)

Writing two sentences took thirty minutes. I was about to start writing the third sentence on the board when I heard the teacher pipe up and tell a really disruptive student to “leave the room and get some air.”

This kid took these instructions quite literally, which was surprising, coming from someone who needed to actively seek out “some air” in a mountain town where the air is fresh and plentiful.

He left the room and even went so far as to exit the building…only to appear on the outside of the classroom’s window.

The student sitting by the window opened it, and the banished student proceeded to make more deranged faces and sounds than I knew the human face or mouth could make.

The teacher – who was sitting at the back of the classroom – didn’t notice this was going on. I, however, had a clear view, but didn’t want to say anything because, like, I’m the cool teacher.

Three fart noises and two elf faces later, the teacher caught on. At which point, she stormed out of the room, so as to chase the window stalker.

“QUICK,” my students yelled (in French, of course,) “she’s coming to get you! Run! No, wait, you don’t have time! Just jump through the window!! Come on, hurry!”

And with that small bit of goading, the student catapulted himself through the window.

Imagine a lion hoisting itself up to a windowpane and then gracefully leaping – in slow motion – into the room. That is what happened.

The student took off running, only to be caught by the teacher, who dragged him back into the room and forced him to keep writing.

My face must have looked like I’d just re-watched Bambi’s mom’s death in HD because all of my students started laughing.

“Madame,” they said, “you’ve never seen that before? This happens all the time!”

“No,” I said. “I have never seen a student JUMP through a WINDOW. But I’m glad I got to share this first experience with all of you.”

Trying to relate this incident to the lesson, I posed the question, “What do we call someone who repairs windows? What kind of job is this?”

“A fireman?” someone proposed.

“Jump out the window,” I responded. (In my head).

***

Later, at the middle school…

A pen is thrown. It hits my calf. A rubber band is flung at the object of a young boy’s affection. I confiscate said rubber band. Said rubber band is now responsible for keeping my deck of playing cards together. (Yes, I have playing cards. They’re right next to my brandy and wooden Chess set. Frank – as in Sinatra – and I play weekly.)

A kid falls out of his chair because another kid pushes it. I attempt my “serious face.” The serious face doesn’t work, in a shocking turn of events. I imagine what it would be like to start sobbing in front of a class. I had a chorus teacher who once locked herself in her office and cried during rehearsal. I could do that. But I don’t have an office. I could always crawl under the desk and assume the fetal position.

As I begin to squat, another student flings another rubber band.

What if I just started doing The Worm? Would they respect me more? Or, here’s an idea, I could do my “Alanis Morissette Goes to the Beach” bit. Kids love her, right?

I’m about to say the opening line – “It’s like ten thousand beached whales, when all you need is a spot,” – when the bell rings.

Thank God.

I tattle on the students to the teacher. She says they’re “banned from seeing me.” I imagine this teacher is my parent, telling me I’m “banned” from seeing the love of my life. I imagine I have a “love of my life.” The imagining is so out of reach that I find myself physically exhausted. I decide to return to the present.

***

The following day, I receive these mementos:

apology notewe love sophie

I also receive a carefully crafted and rehearsed apology from the two most egregious students:

“Miss, I am sorry for what we did. Please excuse me,” says the first.

“Miss, I am sorry for whatever I did,” says the second.

English is hard, and small, yet critical, details can slip through the cracks…kind of like a grown man catapulting through a window.

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