Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Hiding Place, part 1

       Much to my dismay, teachers don't stop working in the summer. Especially the summer before  they start teaching new subjects. Especially the summer before they work towards National Boards. Especially the summer before they start teaching Common Core. Especially the summer that they participate in a National Writing Project summer institute. 

No, I'm not stressed at all. Just tired after typing all that nonsense out.

       But, there are blessings that come from all this hard work. One being that I'm reading and writing about teaching on a daily basis. What follows is part one of a narrative piece about my middle school experience, and more importantly, one of my most influential teachers. Do enjoy, my dears.  

And think of me while you work on your tan, and my skin turns an unsettling shade of schoolmarm beige.

"The Hiding Place," part 1

       You haven't lived until you've been crammed into a 25-square-foot bathroom with fourteen of your 7th and 8th grade classmates.  

       It was the most ridiculous thing any teacher had ever asked any of us to do. But that's what we had begun to expect from Mrs. Morris. The unexpected. In retrospect, she actually had even more gall to tell us that, while in the sardine can that was the preschool bathroom, we were not to talk, cough, laugh, sneeze, or even whisper. That is, not if we wanted to remain "hidden." If you've ever met a middle schooler, you know that their silence - especially when the situation demands it - is as elusive as a Mississippi snow day. 

      Furthermore, upon leaving our classroom to hole up in the bathroom, we were expected to squirrel away all traces of our previous presence there. No math worksheet or lunch box left behind. Which, yet again, if you've ever met a middle schooler, you know that they normally trail more debris behind them than a fleet of floats at a Mardi Gras parade.

There I found myself with a frizzy bob and I'm guessing, if I had to bet money on it, wearing a sweater vest, in the darkness of the preschool bathroom with fourteen remarkably silent adolescent confederates - long after its three-year-old rugrat residents had gone home to juice boxes and naps. I squeezed my eyelids closed, then open, closed, then open again - willing my pupils to adjust to the darkness. With my back pressed to the cool tiles that lined the wall, I surveyed the scene. Miles took this unchaperoned opportunity to perch in the sink "to make room, of course". Kevin was crossing his eyes - his sole mission to force someone, ANYONE, to break Mrs. Morris's command of "No laughing." Sandy and Claire were dangerously close to fulfilling his wish - their shoulders bouncing up and down in silent, girlish giggles. Jonathan, the too-cool-for-school type, stood nonchalantly against the wall - well, as nonchalantly as one can stand when relegated to two yellow bathroom tiles of personal territory. The rest of the class filled in the rectangle of space that was beginning to smell of the quintessential pre-teen odors - too-sweet perfume, Chap Stick, Teen Spirit deodorant, and the sweat of those who had forgotten to apply it. Which is understandable, as it was a new hygiene habit for the bulk of us.

In an instant, our thoughts and antics were halted by urgent voices. We had been warned that this might happen. When Mrs. Morris reviewed us on the protocol of the activity, she said that sometimes our hiding would pass without disturbance. And then, as if nothing had ever occurred, we would return to the classroom and resume the math, science, or history lesson that it had interrupted.  But on the other hand, she said, we couldn't rest in the fact that the hiding would always be that easy. Sometimes we might actually be found. 

So, in a way, we expected what happened next. But, none of us expected it to affect us like it did.


Stay tuned for "The Hiding Place", Part 2. Truth be told, I haven't even written it yet. So I'll be tuning in as well.

0 bonus points:

Post a Comment