Monday 5 December 2016

Diary of a Schoolteacher: Got the walking, talking disruptive student blues -- thanks to Dylan

Published 09/02/2012 | 06:00

It's a dull, grey and sleepy Monday afternoon and I'm teaching the third years on autopilot, setting tasks, drifting off, giving answers, setting tasks and drifting off again.

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I'm about to surreptitiously slip a Rolo into the side of my mouth, when my blood freezes as Dylan Quint, a 'difficult student', appears at the outside window at the back of the room.

So far he is unremarked by the busy Junior Certs but panic sets in as I recall his last incursion into my class a while back.

The clock showed three minutes to one, just before lunch break, and he had flung open my classroom door, the door crashing loudly against the frame and almost bouncing back again in his face, all so that he could shout in to the room that class was over.

He then added the word 'Sir'. To be fair to him, he does have some manners.

Shock on my pupils' faces turned to delight as I leapt up from behind my desk roaring, "Get the hell out of here!" and, "How dare you!"

This was met by a puzzled narrowing of Dylan's face, a moment before he shouted back: "For God's sake! No need to get so angry, Sir. I'm just sayin' that you're late!"

Receiving enlightenment from beyond, it suddenly occurred to me that this last statement could actually pass as an apology. I might as well follow my class as they take advantage of the distraction and flee through the open doorway behind Dylan Quint.

Deciding to let go of any thoughts of vengeance and retribution, I shut the door behind me and head down to the safety of the staff room for a cup of tea.

This time round I consider waving him away but that would definitely catch someone's attention in my class, at present so constructively and pleasingly preoccupied with Section 1 of the 2008 exam paper.

I decide to glower at him as he jumps up and down looking like the world's worst clown.

Glowering is a risky strategy as all kids have a sixth sense for trouble and the last thing I want is for them to be awoken from the charm set on them by the past papers, so this attempt at non-verbal communication is accompanied with some expert lip-framing of the phrase "Flip off" or something similar.

Dylan Quint cannot believe the message he is reading on my lips and for a moment I have the upper hand in this battle of wills and a look of shock spreads across his face. Bizarrely, he reacts by vigorously licking the window, his tongue working away hideously on the dirty pane like a demented hound.

At that moment one of the girls looks up only to catch my look of horror and soon they are turning around and angrily berating Dylan for being a "filthy perv".

Mortified, only as one can be by one's peers, Dylan retreats in shame.

That's child-centred education in action, I guess.

-- E Grade

Irish Independent

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