Saturday, September 13, 2008

no one told me about this in teacher school

That's what I said to one of my classes the other day. "No one told me about this in teacher school." They laughed. They understood.

Let me tell you a little story. Then tell me your story, about something "they" didn't tell you in teacher school.

The plan for the class [one of my 101 sections:—introductory writing, all brand-new freshmen] was to do a practice peer review in preparation for workshopping their own papers during the next class meeting. We took the time to read a sample essay, then they marked areas they liked, areas of confusion, areas they'd change if it were their paper, and mechanical stuff. Then we were going to get into small groups and discuss common things, and report back to the class. Your standard thing, right? Right.


[I should pause now and note that I do indeed love my students, despite their occasional chuckleheadedness, and they know that. They also know I'm telling this story.]

One student got a phone call in class. Yes, that's bad enough. I count it as a win that she got up to take the call out in the hall rather than actually in class. We all continued working in our small groups, and were just starting the "report back to the class" phase, with approximately 10 minutes remaining in the class period. One fellow started to say something interesting and smart, and the student who had been outside the class burst back into the classroom and announced to everyone....

"I just dropped my phone in the toilet!"

We all stopped, looked at her, burst out laughing, students looked at me for direction—for which I had none—and then she said...

"And I had to reach into my pee to get it!"

How to deal with that, folks, is something you don't learn in teacher school.

I'm not sure I moved from my spot. I certainly didn't say anything, because the things going through my head weren't appropriate or even really fully formed. The student sat down, said "What do I do?" and, when I was about ready to say "I have no idea, but you can figure it out after class" another student turned to her and said "Oh, see, what you do first is take out your SIM card, then let the phone dry in the sun, then clean it with a qtip and rubbing alcohol and..."

To which I said, "you've done this too??" Several students have done the same thing. Amazing.

Anyway, the class is still in various stages of incredulity and laughter. One student finally just looked at me and said "how do we continue on after that?"

I said, "yeah, when I figure that out, I'll let you know..."

We managed to get class back on track long enough to wrap up and dismiss until next time. One student now has the unfortunate nickname (and this has made it through their dorm) of "pee phone". And me? I'm pretty sure I'm on Candid Camera every single day in that class.