The scene of the crime = Barbara Bush Middle School, in Irving, Texas, January 23rd, 2020, in third-period 7th-grade Language Arts.
The nature of the crime = attempted murder, cooking, and eating of a substitute teacher… namely, me.
I know I am using hyperbole, and the teeth marks on my old bones are actually metaphorical. But that’s what they did, treating me to the worst things that students routinely do to substitute teachers.
It started first period with a surprise lock-down drill, the kind you have to have in schools to train them how to survive the next mass-shooting on a school campus. First period went well, even after the drill. But after you make them crouch down in the corner away from the windows with the lights out and the door locked so that the killer won’t know there are twenty-some potential victims there hoping not to be shot, it is really hard to get them back to interpreting literature, even a good book like Nothing But the Truth, without having ants in their monkey-pants and evil ideas in their monkey-heads.
When you get the new class coming in the door, you have to plant them in seats and make them shut their little megaphone-mouths and at least pretend to be listening so you can catch hold of the learning-parts of those students who will willingly learn something.
Third period started going wrong before they ever came in the door. They deceived me. They acted like they were normal, human-headed human beings with basic sense and an understanding of how school works. But, once seated, they pop out again like popcorn kernels on a hotplate. The drill-churned monkey-brains in their little monkey-heads begin executing evil monkey-plans full of disruptive lesson-killing behaviors.
One boy, strutting like a peacock, used the magic F-word in front of the three girls he was supposed to be doing group-work with in order to make them giggle and guffaw… which they did on cue and off-key musically.
I took him to the hallway and issued ultimatum number one. That particular child, hormonal nightmare that he was, was probably the brightest boy in class, knowing enough to partner with smart girls who knew most of the right answers. He took the opportunity to not be the child the sub has to kill in front of the class to get the rest of them quiet. He was an angel for the rest of the period and actually kept the three girls out of further trouble.
Villain number two, however, wasted no time in using his illegal cell phone to blast music from the back of the room eliminating any opportunity to do the oral reading the lesson called for. This one had the class in an uproar because of his music choice. I took him out to the hallway to kill him, asking the teacher next door to call the assistant principal. He and his cell phone were to be delivered into the executioner’s cold hands.
Villain number three, meanwhile, a highly aggressive female with a self-proclaimed right to complain about anything and everything and get all the boys to do her bidding decided she needed to argue about something with me without first picking a clear something to rage about. She ended up next to Villain two and was also fed to the principal.
Once they were quieted down by the realization that the sub was executing them for obvious unexceptable behavior, they started writing answers to questions a bit more quietly. Mostly wrong answers, but quieter and less rebellious answers.
Still, a boy waved his arms and jumped up from his seat, throwing some of his belongings about telling me I was picking on him for being black, but calming down as I put him in a new seat nearer to the execution queue and all by himself.
Someone else had the blue-tooth on his or her cellphone tuned in on the teacher’s computer, making it bleat rap music with the touch of an invisible finger inside a pocket. They all laughed and told me that it happened to the regular teacher all the time, and that the only cure was to unplug the computer, which I couldn’t do because of the possible consequences to such an out-dated, possibly antique electronic abacus-like device.
So, I weathered a truly terrible class. It was not my first one. Unless I drop dead tomorrow, it will probably not be the last.
I noticed three other instances of classes going bonkers after the mass-shooter drill on my way out the door after a half-day sub job that I am really glad was not a whole day. That poor assistant principal in charge of discipline! I know he doesn’t face that level of student terrorism every day. But he had a worse day than I did.
So, I left that horrible class behind with a smile on my face. I had a bad time with those monkey-headed criminals. But I got a measure of revenge. And they taught me some of their new tricks that I will be ready for next time. And, truth be known, I secretly love mixing it up with seventh graders like that. I got through to a few, and the rest got what they deserved.