Teaching Blunders #1: Faux cocaine

I would like to share some advice on actions to avoid if you ever find yourself teaching English at a private Christian high school.

It’s 7th period. This is your fourth class of juniors. You’ve already taught this lesson plan three times, meaning that it is stale and you’ve refined it to the point that you always finish too soon. Letting your class go early attracts attention and makes you look like a slouch. You’d love to go to Portland Brew, order an Americano, and read a children’s book. You need to forget that you’ve been finding coarse, white hairs mixed in with the brown. Will the bags underneath your eyes ever go away?

You are tired. You’ve had a long day playing both babysitter and Mr. Keating from Dead Poets Society. Your judgment is skewed.

John Hillin walks through the door. He’s the first student in the room. His older brother was a year ahead of you in school. His older sister was two years behind you. You had two art classes with her. Your parents and his parents went to college together. Your families attended Harpeth Hills Church of Christ together for years. John reminds you a little bit of yourself as a junior. You like him. He’s confident and funny. He’s never disrespectful. You’ll be friends after you don’t teach here anymore. He could be a better student than he is, but you don’t blame him. You have your bachelor’s in English and still find it difficult to stay interested in the curriculum. You wish you could just teach creative writing workshops and spiritual formation.

Oh, you’ve drifted off into a reverie. John is saying something to you:

“Mr. Church, have you ever snorted pixie stick dust?“

“No. Have you?”

“I just did it for the first time a few minutes ago.”

[You’re intrigued. Curiosity is your Achilles’ heel.]

“Well, what’d it feel like?”

“I don’t know, it just felt funny. It tickled. Wanna try it?”

[This is the first interesting thing someone has said to you all day. You stand up straighter. You feel a new resolve. Just as you’re losing faith in humanity, someone presents you with an opportunity to live life outside of a starched shirt and Brooks Brothers tie.]

“Absolutely.”

John pours a line of blue powder on the desk you inherited from the last English teacher, Mrs. Wyatt, bless her soul. Her students probably didn’t invite her into these kinds of experiences.

You press the pointer finger of your left hand into your left nostril, creating a seal. You lean over the desk and snort the dust. It tingles. A butterfly has just flown up your nose. You enjoy an inner calm typically absent this time of day. You are happy.

Other students drift into class. The bell rings. Other students are drawn into the excitement. They take lines of red, blue, purple, and green powder off your desk. Peace and goodwill abound.

The next time you look at the clock, you realize you have spent the first fifteen minutes of class encouraging your student to mimic the nasal absorption of illicit drugs.

You make an announcement to the class:  “It would probably be better if you didn’t tell your parents what happened here today.”

You know they’ll honor your request because keeping things from their parents is what they do best. Everybody loves being invited into a conspiracy. 

You teach the next section of Beowulf or Macbeth or Frankenstein or The Hound of the Baskervilles or whatever it is you’ve been doing. You find solace in knowing that this will one day be a distant memory.

***

I recommend snorting pixie stick dust. I also recommend practicing self-control until you are in the privacy of your home. 

Please learn from my lapse in judgment.

Moral: Crack kills.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted March 14, 2009 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    TELL me you’ve walked into class saying things like, “Animals do technology!” and have subsequently bombarded your students with a barrage of ping-pong balls.

    Tell me you have, Austin L. Church, or I shall be MOST disappointed!!!!

  2. Jamin Rucker
    Posted March 24, 2009 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    I remember this day well. I also seem to recall that someone eventually tasted blood in his mouth…