Friday, September 19, 2008

Classroom management challenge

This happened last spring. I meant to blog about it then. But I didn't. So I will now.

I'm wandering around the room, educating the youth of America in some fashion, when suddenly, and seemingly without cause, most of the students startle themselves upright. "Geez! Knock it off!" one says. I look around, baffled. I resume teaching.

A few moments later, the same thing.

This time, more kids are angry. "Will you STOP?"

I'm totally baffled. "What's going on?"

"Can't you hear that?"


"Someone's whistling! A really annoying whistle!"

"Wow. I can't hear it. He must be doing it in a range that you guys, with your young ears, can hear, but I can't."


"Yeah. It's a sound at a really high frequency that doesn't register with my ears, but it does with yours. Anyway, whoever you are, you're clearly annoying people. Stop doing it."

That worked for about five minutes. Then, again, everybody in the room shivered to an upright position, some grabbing at their heads and ears.

I took control.

"ALL RIGHT! I want everybody in the room to point in the direction of the whistle--right now!"

Everybody pointed towards the back of the room, a couple of seats towards stage left.

"OK, Ed. Let's go outside."

Ed looked surprised, but started to go with me.

Thankfully, and to his credit, Floyd, who was sitting next to Ed, said "Mr. RefPoet, it wasn't Ed. It was me." And he joined me outside, saving Ed from a stern reprimand.

I briefly told Floyd he needed to stop doing that. But I was really interested in this whistling talent. After clearly stating he would not do this ever again in class, I said:

"So you really can do that?"


"Do it."

He put his front teeth against his bottom lip. All I could hear was a little air passing through.

"You're whistling?"


"Hold on a second."

I opened the door, and called for Josephine. She was the one who was reacting the worst to Floyd's whistling.

"Jo, you're not in trouble, but could you come out here with us?"

She did. Unwillingly, but she did.

"I want to see this. OK, now, Floyd, do it again."

He did. And while I stood there doing nothing, Jo ducked away and said "That's awful! Ugggh! I hate that noise!"

These are the kinds of situations that ed school did not prepare me for. But I think I passed the test, and threw in a little science lesson to boot.


Paula said...

There are so many things they don't cover in ed classes. That's a pretty cool trick. Good thing there were no dogs around.

Jim Anderson said...

I had a student who could "whistle" like a cricket. It wasn't a real whistle, though--he used the back of his throat. He tried to show me how, but I could never catch on.