Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dealing with Troublemaking Bullies

To quote the bottom of the article:

I lived by three rules as a teacher: 1) Use humor to deal with tough situations; 2) don't ever let a student know they have gotten to you; and, 3) don't run to the vice principal - handle your own discipline problems.

On Friday, I held the mike at an assembly. I was hyping an upcoming basketball game. Because their classroom is so far away, shop-class students arrive late to assemblies and usually enter quietly from a door on the side of the gym. This day was different. During my pep talk, in a clear effort to be disruptive, Big Josh burst through the door like a wrecking ball. He just so happened to be wearing a garish, red shop-class apron.

All eyes were on him. He had gotten his laugh.

Then it happened. Without premeditation, I yelled, "Heyyyyyyy Kool-Aid."

It was Dave Chappelle funny. Laughter thundered through the gym. KO'd in the first round. Immediately, Big Josh was dead, and "Kool-Aid" rose from his ashes. For the rest of the year kids would yell, "Hey Kool-Aid" when they encountered Josh. After the assembly, somehow students saw him as more human, more accessible, more like everyone else.

During lunch I posted a new sign with a slightly adjusted message: "Leave all excess baggage (and Kool-Aid) at the door." It hung intact for the rest of the year.

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