Posts Tagged ‘Problem Students’

Not him. Close though.

I once had a kid named Jimmy who was a bit of a punk. All of us knew kids like him when we were in school, he was always running to the teacher to tell on somebody, threatening to sue someone, running to mommy when he got into trouble, generally being a future assclown in training.

One day Jimmy was being his typical annoying self and wouldn’t shut his piehole, so I called him to the front of the class. As some of you know I like to draw (I even illustrated a book on nutrition a couple years ago – picture dancing carrots and bananas on skateboards and stuff). With this in mind I thought I’d draw Jimmy a picture to illustrate my point. You know, because he didn’t seem to understand the spoken word very well. And by “very well” I mean not at all.

At that point I proceeded to draw what I thought was a pretty cool picture depicting a group of people standing well away from the edge of a cliff that plunged down into the sea, just standing there contentedly safe from harm. I also drew some mighty sharp rocks down below. I have to admit it was a pretty cool picture considering I drew it in about a minute and a half. I mean, I had the waves crashing into the rocks and everything.

Right at the edge of the cliff I added one little man, just a step away from taking the fall far into the abyss, and with it certain death. I then had this conversation with Jimmy:

“Jimmy, here’s the deal. See all those people standing safely back away from the edge of the cliff? That’s our class. Now, see the little guy there standing real close to the edge of the cliff? Jimmy, that’s you. Now I want you to think about this for a minute. You can turn and walk safely away from danger, join the rest of the class, and get on with your life. Or, you can take that step the other way, the step that takes you over the edge and off the cliff. What decision are you going to make?”

To which Jimmy replied quietly, “I think I’ll walk back and join the rest of the class.”

Good answer.

Jimmy was fine for the rest of the period, but the story doesn’t end there. The next day I was called to the principal’s office. As I walked in I saw my principal behind his desk, albeit with an almost undetectable smirk on his face. In the visitor’s chair sat a big biker dude, complete with the leather pants and vest and all. I think the vest said something on the back like The Grim Jokers or Satan’s Spawn or The Lost Peckerwoods or something along those lines. I also recall thinking that a family of Ospreys could be living in biker dude’s beard. My principal then informed me that biker dude was in fact Jimmy’s dad and made the intros. Animosity was in the air and you could cut the tension with a switchblade.

Note: I should probably point out that I really hate badass wannabes who buy a Harley, purchase some leather at the gift shop and suddenly think they’re a Hell’s Angel. That said, man, did Jimmy’s dad look like a Hell’s Angel. 

Here’s what went down from there:

Principal: “Mr. Shoemaker, Jimmy’s father says you threatened to throw his son off a cliff.”

Wait. W-h-a-t?

Me: “Well, I have three things to say about that. Number one, I drew a picture on the board illustrating that Jimmy was about to get into serious trouble. Number two, the entire class knew exactly what I meant. Number three, that includes Jimmy.”

Biker Dude: “He threatened my son. I want him fired!”

Principal, who really liked me but was sort of befuddled: “Mr. Shoemaker, can you show me what you drew?”

I then, on the board in the principal’s office, proceeded to draw an incredible re-creation of my original masterpiece. OK, maybe I put the kid a little farther away from the edge, and I’m pretty sure I made him uglier. Then the principal took a look, approved of my class management style, and told biker dude so.

Biker Dude: “At the very least I want this put on his permanent record!”

Me: “Nah, I don’t think it needs to go on Jimmy’s permanent record. It wasn’t that big of a deal.”

This apparently upset daddy greatly, as I guess he meant my permanent record. He started yelling and stomping around, just generally making threats and stuff. I don’t think the principal could really hear him though because he had his head in his hands, trying his damndest not to laugh. As for me, I was just leaning against the wall.

Oh, and it’s possible I could have been grinning.

Long story short the guy finally stormed out and my permanent record remained clean. Well, clean compared to, you know, Charles Manson or somebody.

My principal stopped by my room later to chastise me, saying this:

“Remind me to never have you in a parent meeting again.”

Then he walked away shaking his head, but I’m pretty sure he was smiling.

Of course, the never going to a parent meeting thing was fine by me.

As for Jimmy, the little narc didn’t give me any more problems. The old “Throw you off a cliff” strategy must have done the trick.

That’s some top level classroom management right there, teachers. Feel free to borrow at your own risk.