This could go any number of directions, but today here's where it's going:
At school there's a "no food in the classrooms" rule. This is such a strict rule this year that the new custodial staff sends emails warning us of roach infestations if we leave food out for the bugs, and I was recently forced to hold a "Lunch with Shakespeare" discussion in the cafeteria during lunch because I ordered pizza for the my group of students.
I try to ask my students to finish their food and beverages before they come to class, and if I see them with food in the room, I kindly ask them to put it away. Of course, this past week, some student group introduced a coffee cart that offers coffee treats before school and during first period. But remember, no food--or drink--is allowed in the classrooms. I'll give you a moment to imagine the conflict this might cause.
|There was no coffee available for students when I was in high school. |
Why do today's teens need it?
This morning two students entered my room with pastry and coffee in hand. A brother and sister. Twins. One does class work. The other tends not to. I asked them to put the food away, though I wasn't sure where they were going to put the full coffee cups. And with that, one of the other 39 students in my room diverted my attention.
I proceeded with class, and a couple of minutes later I noticed that the brother had the lid off of his hot drink and was otherwise occupied with stirring something into the liquid. When I told him once again--and I'm sure my tone conveyed my exasperation at his blatant disregard for my instructions--that he was not allowed to have the coffee in the classroom, he opted to leave. He said he would just get a pass and take the tardy. I informed him that I would be writing up a referral if he just left class, so he offered to go straight to the Dean's office right then.
If this exchange sounds overly civil as I write this, it's merely my overwhelming disbelief at his decisions. Surely, the dean will not allow him to keep his coffee and behave this way, too. Sometimes a student needs that additional authority figure to show him the error of his ways.
A few more minutes of instruction slipped by, and I happened to stroll by the corner of the room where the sister sits. Her half-eaten pastry and cup of Joe sat in front of her on the table.
Now, I have to admit that I can understand a student's need for sustenance in the morning. And I can understand that three minutes after you just shelled out four or five bucks for a coffee and a roll, the last thing a you need is some curmudgeon telling you you have to get rid of it. You might as well have just tossed the money in the trash. But what I don't understand is when a student in one part of the classroom gets in trouble for an obvious reason, and another student across the room who might well be guilty of the same infraction doesn't immediately renounce said infraction before the teacher notices her as well.
Of course, she had no idea that anything was wrong. In an effort to retain some control of my impatience, I offered to put the cup up on the shelf over her head. What I got back was something like, "Why? What's the difference? It's just on the table. What's the difference? Why?" repeated ad nauseum.
My response: "Because you're not allowed." To be said slowly and as condescendingly as possible, as in "not alllloooowwwwed."
|You remember what happens when |
you don't follow the rules.
Soon after that episode, the brother came back to class with a pass from the Dean's office (not a tardy pass) with written permission from the dean to re-enter class. He had sat in the office until he finished his coffee and then came back to class with nary a consequence.
The dizzying array of insults within this scenario includes the lack of back-up from the administration, the lack of respect from the students, and the fact that no one else seems to notice a conflict of interest by allowing the coffee cart in the first place.
But what bothers me the most is that I have to resort to forceful statements like, "Because you're not allowed," in order to maintain (or regain) control. I don't like being that guy. But here I am. I'm not Matthew Lillard at the end of SLC Punk deciding to go to law school so that he can bring down the establishment from within. (I never did believe that he wouldn't end up just like his dad, anyway.)
|Am I nothing more than a trendy poseur?|
And that makes me a little sad.