“Save the drama for your mama.”
- Original Author unknown, but heard on an episode of the Fox reality show “Boot Camp”
Today’s job was for high school for Community C, which I’d only worked with one time before. The weird part of the job is that it was for DRAMA. Why I put myself down to teach drama, I have no idea. I had nothing I could bring for them to do if there were no plans, so I decided to bring my iPod and dock.
When I arrived to the school, a teacher chef walked me to the stairwell that led to Community C office. Sometimes I feel like subbing is like being in a Fellini film. When I made it up four flights of stairs (with four heavy bags) the sour secretary pointed to my schedule and attendance sheets, but no plans. The teacher’s mailbox was empty, so I hoped something would be in the room. On the way down, I ran into my sister’s role model* who sweetly said, “Hi,” instead of running away from me.
The large room was like a suite – with a large room in the middle and four smaller rooms attached to it. I made my way to her office and met another teacher. It turned out I’d be working for two teachers who were going on a field trip and I’d be working in two schools, because one teacher’s afternoon schedule was at the Freshman Academy. (You know, the place I drove to by accident yesterday.)
While in the room, I realized that this was probably where Matt Damon and Ben Affleck rehearsed when they were students at this high school. Looking around, I wondered if any of these students would become famous actors. I recognized some of them who had been in the dance recital.
Before class began, this was a discussion about Passover overheard between three students:
Boy 1: “I’m still the youngest, so I still have to read ‘The Four Questions’.”
Boy 2: “I don’t know anything about being Jewish. What do you do at a Seder?”
Boy 1: “We eat matzoh, drop wine on a plate, eat matzoh, and drop more wine.”
Girl: “You sound like you’re really devoted to your religion.”
When it was time for class, the students had to watch a movie about an illegal Irish immigrant family called “In America”. They were good during the film. I had to leave class twenty-minutes early in order to make it to the other high school, but the teacher had assured me they’d be good for the rest of the period. “Don’t tear up the place,” I said before leaving. “Good luck with the ninth-graders,” one of boys responded.
I’d taught at the Freshman Academy a few times before**. While ninth-graders aren’t my favorite grade to teach, I understand the species. But I didn’t understand the directions to the classroom, so I took the television up to the second floor, when my class was in the basement. And then I fumbled with the door key. But I figured everything out before the students arrived.
I asked a group of girls to sit.
One of them said, “You look really young. I don’t mean it in a mean way or anything.”
Her friend added, “I hate it when people think I’m eleven.”
“I used to hate it when people thought I looked young when I was your age, but now I like it,” I said.
I refrained from adding a story about the hassle of trying to drink underage when you look really young.
This group was supposed to watch “A Raisin in the Sun”, but they weren’t into it, so I spent a lot of the time walking around, trying to keep it quiet enough for the handful of students who were trying to hear the movie. The only time the class cared was when “Claire Huxtable” from “The Cosby Show” first appeared on the screen. At some point “Jesse” from Full House made an appearance and a girl and I agreed he was cuter on “Full House”. Oddly enough, nobody cared about P. Diddy or Sean Combs or Sean John or whatever he goes by these days.
The back of the room had seating shaped like big Legos. They were blocks the size of milk crates and double-sized milk crates that locked together. Boys and girls argued about armrests and footrests and who was hogging what. I couldn’t believe that I had to negotiate seating. One female student observed and said to me, “This class is really selfish.”
One boy had crutches. He and a friend each picked up a crutch and pretended to shoot their classmates, complete with quiet machine guns sounds, pretending they were playing the video game “Call of Duty”. I wondered (feared) if my son would act this way when he reached ninth-grade.
A girl said, “They’re being so annoying. Stop them.”
“Boys, you can’t pretend to shoot your classmates.”
“Why?” (As if he didn't know.)
“For one, these girls will never date you.”
“We don’t want to date them! They’re not our type.”
I didn’t have the heart to tell them that they probably weren’t any of these girls’ types.
I added, “There’s also a no weapons policy in this school.”
After that, they went back to bothering the crates. This class had an odd schedule because the students were in class for forty-minutes, left for lunch, and returned for thirty-minutes. (I have no idea why.)
I said to the boys, “If you leave these cubes alone, you can come back before lunch is over and build a fort, as long as you can see the TV.”
They returned early from lunch and built their fortress, which reminded me of "The Simpsons" episode when Lisa and Bart fight the UPS-type delivery people in the style of “Lord of the Rings”. Did you see that episode? Here’s a clip:
The rest of the class ran smoothly, though it was funny to see the girls (who scoffed at the boys earlier) liked the fort too, so about eight boys and girls sat inside (sort of) watching the movie. Just before class ended, we dismantled the fort.
* The recent role model story:
** Another experience at the Freshman Academy: