"Well I thought to myself, I feel so sorry for that person's teacher because if I were that person's teacher I would be so embarrassed because my students would never act like that in a store. Would you??" I eyeballed each and everyone of those little cherubs and they all gave me their word that they never would. Uh-uh. No way!
That's how I get the point across about acting well regardless of where you are and who you're with. My students generally promise to behave...everywhere. I guess they have a fear of "The Teacher" watching them. In my 17 years of teaching I have never had the opportunity to see if the threat works.
Until this past weekend.
( Everyone practice with me. Point index finger and middle finger at eyes...turn index finger and middle finger and point them at children and mouth the words..."I'm watching you"... Repeat)
(No, I didn't say a swear word...at least I don't think I did...did I? Let me think...nope, didn't)
I was running errands at a well known store that starts with a big W. This particular establishment is a good ways away from the neighborhood my students live in. I never run into any of my students. Never.
I was minding my own business when I heard an overhead announcement paging someone to automotive. The name of the person was the same as one of my students. This name is very unusual. I thought to myself, "Noooo, it couldn't be. Not here. Noooo." I went about my business. The next school day I called my student over.
"You were shopping yesterday weren't you? You got away from your Grandma and she had to have the employees call you to automotive, didn't she? You were messing around in the toy department weren't you? Grandma told you to stay with her and you didn't listen. Did you? Know how I know?"
The look on his face was classic. Mouth and eyes opened wide. Astonishment? Fear? Surprise? All of them! It said...
"Uh-oh, she is everywhere!"
Years ago, when I was first starting on this teaching journey, when teachers went to workshops on a regular basis, I attended one on discipline. I remember that the presenter was hilarious, kept us all engaged, and had extensive experience working with inner-city kids. One thing he said about disciplining kiddos is to "mess with them". He was describing how to divert the attention of students who are particularly challenging. "Go over to that child who refuses to listen and start saying stuff like 'I was at the store this weekend. Had to buy dog food. Now there's dry dog food. Canned dog food. Food in 10 lb. sacks. Food in 50 lb. sacks...' See what I mean? Mess with them!"
It works. Really!