As the 8th graders entered 6th period yesterday, I thought of the phrase a herd of elephants. I could tell that it was going to be one of those classes. I was going to have to come down on them hard, but I was going to wait until the period started before I dropped the hammer.
It was an English class. The teacher had strung a long line of yarn across the back of the room. It was tied to the windows, and it draped down into the class. Along this yarn were hung various poems that the students had written. It was a clever way to display them. No one had bothered this display all day.
As the students entered the class, they ducked under the poems. One student reached up to touch the yarn...
I shouldn't have been surprised. The whole thing came crashing down. Several thoughts flitted through my mind. At the front, though, was that that was a brilliant bit of chaos. I couldn't resist. I gave it a golf clap.
8th graders. This led to a round of applause from most of the class.
The student who had caused the crash said: "Ms. B. would have been mad."
Um, yeah. She might still be. Did he think that this incident wouldn't make it into my note? I didn't see the point in yelling at him, as his face showed me just how chagrined he felt when that yarn broke.
As soon as the yarn broke, two students jumped up to try to reattach the yarn. One ended up on a desk. The other stood by attempting to help. The culprit went over to assist as soon as he put his stuff down. He said that it was his responsibility given that he had broken it.
By this time class had started, and a group that was already wound up was now on the brink of going absolutely insane. I debated whether I should go over and put the display to rights, but I had some crowd control to do.
I attempted to get class started. They had a warm up exercise. I told them that they'd better do it.
I don't know what the issue was at getting the yarn reattached, but the students weren't getting anywhere. I was ready to cut them off, especially when they came asking for tape or a stapler. (That wasn't going to hold, and then we'd be right back where we started.) Then they realized that if they tied the yarn to the next window over the yarn would reach.
Once this was fixed, I somehow managed to get them all back into class mode. I threatened them. I explained that when I was talking I needed them to not be, and my note would reflect how well they paid attention when I was talking.
I'm surprised that it worked.
Perhaps it helped that they knew me. It sounded like I'd hit all of their science classes in the past couple months. I'm just grateful that they settled down.