Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Impeding Traffic

As a newbie sub, I learned not to ask other students for their classmates' names. Even the most "reliable" of the good students "doesn't know" the names of the misbehaving students (even though they've all been in school together since kindergarten).

It's a snitch thing. No student wants to "snitch" on his/her peers.

Last Thursday I covered middle school pre-algebra. They had worksheets. They did them. The bell rang, and the students filed out to go to lunch.

I made sure I was set up for the next group. But the room wasn't clearing out as quickly as it normally does. The students were stuck. Um, what...?

One seated girl had her leg propped on a nearby desk, blocking the only path through the room to the door.

Um, no.

Because of the traffic jam, I could not get to the girl. I called out, but she couldn't hear me. Then whatever was going on settled, for the girl stood, and everyone could pass. I tried to get to the girl (I wanted to have a little discussion about blocking pathways in small classrooms), but she left, apparently not hearing me calling out to her.

Quietly, I asked the girl nearest to me who that had been. And the girl told me!

I did not expect an answer. I expected a hemming and hawing. No snitching to the sub. But I guess preventing everyone from leaving class loses a girl certain privileges.

I understand, though. She was keeping them all from lunch!


  1. So what'd you do about the girl? Subs don't have the right to ship students off to a gulag, right?

    I admire you for dealing with kids all day under these circumstances. I get nervous around high schoolers and middle schoolers and would probably have a breakdown if I had to sub teach.

  2. Snitching is an interesting phenomenon, brought on by the instinctual? desire to be liked. If people only knew that (for the majority of us) we have few friends as adults. Most (once they hook up in a relationship) shed all other friends except a few really close ones (and even those don't get the attention they used to). If I had known that I'd be essentially "friendless" in my forties, I would have snitched all the time. My response to people that would have been upset would be "It's not like we're friends anyway. You don't write, don't send post cards, and I don't get Xmas presents from you. So fuck you. Rot in detention."

  3. Yep. Never stand in the way of teenagers and their lunchtime.

    I've only ever worked (and subbed) at my small, private school (ten kids max, per class) so not knowing students' names was never an issue. When I was the sub, I went into the classroom with physical descriptions of everyone.

  4. It's interesting what will motivate people to say certain things.

  5. What was she thinking? You do not want to block the way to food. It always ends badly.


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