Friday, May 4, 2012

Creating Energy in the Classroom

No matter how important you think what you are saying is, it is not nearly as important as you think.  Reminders of this are frequent and often unexpected.  This time of the year most teachers are focused on the impending test season.  APs, SOLs and other acronyms loom in the not so distant future and we are all trying to convey a degree of gravity appropriate for the setting.

That sets the stage for the reminder I received in class the other day.  My students were viewing a video and completing a set of questions while I graded their just completed quizzes.  I was pointing out some of the more significant details when a young lady near my desk leaped from her seat.

Based on her body language it was clear there was some sort of insect harassing her.  This is fairly common in the basement and I am not bothered much by bugs or any other creature for that matter.   Plus I grew up watching The Electric Company and am quite familiar with Spiderman who was in the best part of the show.  I usually try to remove pests quickly to the breezeway as opposed to using my foot to stomp them. This helps minimizes disruptions to the class and makes me look cool. Or it is intended to anyway.   Most of the time the mustache bugs, ants, bees, skinks and mole crickets cooperate with little resistance.

I only count 6
Imagine if you will, the scene where a bee buzzes at the ceiling lights.  No matter what you tell your students about ignoring it, the proximity to them and the frantic movements manage to disrupt the class until you remove it.  So this was affecting learning and I meant to fix the situation.  I wouldn't have this in my class and I wouldn't be bested by any insect. I am a survivalist afterall.  I qualify as such since after run ins with the previously mentioned critters, I survived.  With all eyes on me I went into action. 

After inquiring and gaining intel on the "huge" spider I chose to apprehend the offender with some tissues, Puffs I believe.  I rounded the corner of my desk and inspect the meeting of the wall and floor for my quarry.  As I approached something horrific came into view.  It was a spider and it was in fact huge.  Feeling like the guy with the knife at the gunfight, I quickly reassessed my choice of equipment.  I grabbed a cup from my Feudalism M&Ms simulation and re-engaged my foe.

The Southern House Spider...and her kids.
As I approached, the spider seemed to grow even larger and lifted its front legs in defiance.  I bravely and calmly worked to capture the beast which had now gotten the attention of every student and roused many of them from their desk for a closer look.  As if watching a car crash from which they couldn't look away.  I scooped, and into the cup went the spider.

Wow!  It was a bit bigger than a silver dollar and had an abdomen the size of a super ball.  Using the tissues to keep it in the cup I glanced beneath them just as the spider jumped nearly six inches to freedom.  I watched it hit the floor and scurry beneath a bookbag.  Frustrated I looked at the cup and to my horror it was crawling with small spiders.  Worse yet a dozen or so had begun to move up my arm.

Immediately I did what any seasoned outdoorsman worth their salt would do.  I screamed like a little girl and flung my arm back and forth.  This did little to help the situation.  In my panic I had scattered baby spiders about the room and onto students.

My bad. 

So now the class was in complete disarray and the students varied in their response.  Some were frozen on their chairs in panic, some scurried behind their desks and some still ran to get a closer look.

Spiderman indeed
OK. This was getting bad.  I had to save myself...I mean the students. "Once more unto the breech dear friends, once more" I thought.  I steadied myself and grabbed the bookbag to reveal the legged terror. Swiftly as it fled towards the bookshelf, I corralled it into the cup and wasted no time heading out the door, leaving the students howling behind me.   The sound from the cup will forever haunt me as the legs scratched for escape.  I showed the capture to my fellow Underground Teacher only to have it escape again.  My struggle getting it back into the dixie-cup trap left more small spiders scattered about the hallway floor.

After a short captivity this noble Spider mom found a new resting place in the forsythia bush near the stairwell featured on our page. I returned to the room and for the rest of the period tried my best to get the students back on track.  I had better luck controlling the spider.


  1. This is a great story starter for an English class... simply add the words "What Happened Next? But seriously, this is a great story!

    Queen Bee