Tales from the Classroom: Working With Animals, Falling Out of a Tree Stand, Black Magic, and Being Seen at the Liquor Store

Posted: June 11, 2014 in Classroom, Education, Humor
Tags: , , ,

As many of you know, I’ve been in education for over 30 years. I’ve taught at every level from Pre-School to 8th Grade, from PE to Social Studies (yes, my years as a PE teacher included a class of 4-year olds. Fun aplenty but that’s another blog entirely).  Anyway, I’ve taught, coached, was an AD for 9-years, blah-blah-blah. As a result I’ve had some pretty interesting experiences. Below are just a few, because I have a million of these.

Back when I taught 6th Grade I had a kid named Joe who was, shall we say, a little on the edge. He’d been in trouble so many times his mail was delivered to the principal’s office. I knew about all this at the beginning of the year but, as I did with all my kids, I was going to let him start with a clean slate. The first couple of weeks were uneventful, but Joe never said a word. I decided the best plan would be to just give him time and try to draw him out slowly. Sure enough, one day we were talking about careers and I was asking my kids if they had any idea what they wanted to do for a living someday. The topic then turned to animals, so I asked the class if anyone would like to work with animals in the future. Among the 4 or 5 students who raised their hand was Joe. Ah, I thought – breakthrough. I worked my way slowly over to him. I asked one of the kids how they wanted to work with animals, and she said she wanted to be a veterinarian. Another said he wanted to run a daycare for dogs. And then I turned to Joe. The conversation went like this:

Me: “Joe, how would you like to work with animals?”

Joe: “I want to work in a slaughterhouse.”

That, my friends, was Joe’s idea of “working with animals.”

A couple of years ago I was teaching PE and a 2nd Grader walked over to me. Here’s the conversation:

Max: “Mr. Shoe, do you mind if I sit out for a little bit?”

Me: “Why? Are you sick?”

Max: “Nah, I’m not sick, I just haven’t felt very good since the incident.”

Me: “The incident? What incident?”

Max: “I fell out of a tree stand.”

He then proceeded to turn around and show me a knot on his head the size of a softball.

Me: “HOLY . . . have you been to the doctor?”

Max: “Nah, dad says it’s probably just a concussion.”

Me: “Max, go to the nurse.”

What can I say? They raise ‘em tough here in rural Southern Ohio.

When I was a High School Athletic Director, I was making the rounds passing out some paperwork to my coaches.  One of my coaches taught 3rd Grade, and I have to say she was, well, a bit of a prude. Keep this in mind as you read the conversation that took place between me and a little kid as I walked into her room:

Kid: “HEY! I saw you in the liquor store!”

Me, startled: “Huh? What? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Kid: “Yeah, it was you. It was on Thursday in Greenfield. You were at the liquor store.”

At this point I remember that I was in fact in Greenfield on Thursday, and that it was, in fact, at the liquor store.

Me, thinking fast: “Oh yeah, a buddy of mine owns the place so I was stopping in to say hello.”

I’ve no idea why I felt compelled to lie to the kid, being an adult an all, but he had me on the ropes. Alright, I admit it.  I panicked. Anyway, the kid wasn’t convinced . . .

Kid, skeptically: “Huh.”

At that point I’d given the papers to the teacher and was on my way out. Hey, I’d covered my ass and was good to go. But as the door was about to shut behind me I heard this:

“That’s funny. I thought I saw him buying a fifth of Grey Goose Vodka.”

Good God. Damn kid was probably flunking 3rd Grade but he remembered every damn detail of my trip to Joe’s Party Shop.

Finally, one year I had a new kid arrive in my 3rd grade Physical Education class. Her name was Chelsea. She seemed like a nice, unassuming kid, though she was understandably shy on her first day at our school. As I always do with new students, I decided to try and make her feel more comfortable. I walked up to her and, well, here’s what transpired:

Me: “Chelsea! That’s a cool name.”

Chelsea: “Thanks.”

Me: “How do you like it here so far?”

Chelsea, shyly: “I like it.”

Me: “Oh, that’s nice. Hey, what’s this?”

I then proceeded to perform the old “pull the quarter out of the ear” trick, a surefire way to impress and amaze 8-year olds. I couldn’t have been more proud of my technique, by the way. But then . . .

Chelsea, wide-eyed and backing away: “YOU DON’T LOVE JESUS!!!”

Me: “Wait. What? Who?”

Chelsea: “YOU DO MAGIC! YOU DON’T LOVE JESUS!!!”

She then proceeded to make a run for it but was stopped at the door by the principal, who just happened to be walking into the gym. Needless to say I had some explaining to do.

On a related note, I crossed the “Fly Your Harry Potter Broomstick Race” off my game list for that particular class.

Teaching, man. Never a dull moment.

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