Tuesday, February 09, 2010

New Beginning 726

My hands are clamped around the scrawny neck of a squirming thirteen year old boy. From the corner of my eye I see a kid who is high up in the air stomping on his desk. He screams “EIEIO, and on his FARM he had a PIG, EIEIO…WITH A…” he screeches out pig oinks. I have been in my classroom for four seconds. The kid between my hands pasted a girl in the face as I walked in the door. She is bawling, head down, on her arms folded on her desk. The kid in my hands is looking at me wide eyed and open mouthed, terrified. I’ve got him, what do I do with him?

Two girls are necking while another videos them with her camera. A boy sits in his underwear, while his classmate sews up the split seam of the arse of his shorts ripped out by another girl who doesn’t look one bit sorry.

A group of bigger boys have a poker game going on in the corner. Betting is heavy.

As I look around, wondering what to do with this screaming, squirming lad, I can't help but think Hogwarts was a better place when Voldemort was still alive.

Opening: Bibi.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen caption:

I take it all back. Being a character in The Simpsons would not be "so cool," after all. He can keep his wishes. Where's that freaking genie now? --anon.

Evil Editor said...

This does the job of showing a classroom in chaos, but the activities suggest a wider age range than I would expect from kids in the same class. I wouldn't expect a kid standing on his desk singing "Old MacDonald" to be in the same classroom with girls making out. I wouldn't expect anyone to have a needle and thread handy. I'd expect most kids to stop what they're doing to laugh at the kid in his underwear. The kid who punched the girl should have been thrown out of the room immediately, with no wondering what to do with him.

Of course, I was 13 decades ago, so perhaps my views are outmoded.

fairyhedgehog said...

It sounds over-the-top St-Trinian's-style but I was so drawn in that I didn't notice some of the inconsistencies at first! I did wonder how the hell a teacher managed to get his or her hands round a child's neck in the current climate but I'm assuming I'm going to find out some time soon.

The first paragraph worked better for me than the next two. Now the narrator has hold of the child, I want to know what happens next.

(I love the continuation.)

wendy said...

Who am I supposed to care about in this scene?

Description is good, but there's simplu WAY too much of it.

Good luck.

mb said...

Continuation is perfect!

Dave F. said...

I think this is too much at once, an overload for the reader. Step back, set the scene in a sentence as then introduce the speaker as a new teacher.

christina said...

As a former teacher with years of experience with bad ass kids in a self-contained classroom setting(aka behaviorally challenged)some of this doesn't ring true for me. I think it needs to be toned down a bit. I've put my hands on kids plenty, but I think it would be better to say he grabbed the kid's hood or back of the shirt or the kid's arms. Unless you're going for drama and this teacher is coming into a juvenile detention classroom setting or is about to get in trouble for his putting hands around the kid's neck in the next scene (maybe he's a green teacher?).

So now I'd like to hear more about the story...it's definitely intriguing.

150 said...

If your students are already up to all that, maybe you should have gotten to the classroom earlier, Professor Tardy.

I agree that there's too much going on, although looking back on eighth grade, I could see any of it happening at that age level...just not all at once, and not in the time it takes a teacher to get from the hall to the classroom.

I'm interested, though.

Bernita said...

Not sure you need paras 2 and 3, but I liked this - especially the kid singing Old MacDonald...

_*Rachel*_ said...

I like that beginning, but after a while you seem to drown us in examples. Plus, I've never seen a middle school classroom quite that bad. I can see about one of those, tops, in any classroom, but not all.

Skip the hands-around-neck: it's too easy to get out of. I suggest a choke hold. Get your arm around the kid's neck, elbow in front of the windpipe, lock your arm in place with your other hand, and he's not going anywhere. Just don't pull too tight or you'll cut off blood flow to the brain.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Ahhhhhahahahaha @ Professor Tardy! I love it.

Nothing to add to the comments -- I'm with EE, too many various ages seem to be in one room. The descriptions are excellent: I could definitely visualize what you described.

Anonymous said...

Well guys, again thanks for the feedback. This is a real class, in Thailand. No fail policy and education in general makes all this possible. 3 – 4 year differences can span 1 class. This is Mattayom 2. Yes, needles and threads are very common because the kids are better at crosshatching little squares of fabric than math, Thai or English. They get 10 credits for cross hatching, English is worth 5 credits over the course of the year.

Evil, with all due respect, you can’t put kids out of the classroom here in a government school. Against the rules. If you do you are in trouble, not the kid. Wendy, we should be concentrating on the teacher pov. The name of the short story is “Living the Bells of St. T’s”. I never saw the movie. Sitting in underwear here is nothing. I’ve got two lesbians, aged 12 that sit and kiss and stroke each other when my back is turned and I’m writing on the board. The desk broke, the kid crashed to the floor, quieting the animal noises. The teacher wasn’t late – the kids were already in the class because that’s where their last class was. The Thai teacher left early, thus the chaos. Teaching here is like the Roller Derby meets Armageddon with a very bad ending. No guff. The neck was the closest and only thing to grab. No hoodies – it is too hot. The girl slapee must have had a bad day because this is a matriarchal society and on a good day she would have ground his face to mush on the floor. He is shorter. I’ve seen girls toss the slapper across two desks and draw their fists and ask if he wants more…. No kidding. Been teaching here for two very enlightening years. Just google teaching in Thailand if you want to confirm… Man, I tuned the goings on way down.
The rest of the story goes on with a 12 year old asking if the male teacher has a girlfriend and if not could she have his phone number, the bouncing of a condom balloon, etc. Just some good clean fun in any class room in the Land of Smiles that a foreigner teaches. Yesterday my star psychopath – all of 13 jumped onto a ledge (4th floor), his friend locked the window and the 13 year old almost slit his wrist open when he drove his fist through the window trying to get back in. I met with his mother 3 times last year – told her he needed to see a pediatrician (Ritalin for ADD/hyper activity). Well, mom sent him to a temple to mediate and he set it on fire… Did I mention he threw a cat off the 4th floor roof? I will take the polygraph. All true.
Best regards and the comments are succinct. Thanks guys. Bibi
PS The cat lived, down to 8 lives, but the little manx walked away, shaking her head, but she's fine. Dogs and cats roam at will in and out the the class rooms.

Anonymous said...

Forty-nine minutes before the bell rings. It is my first day teaching. I am drenched in sweat.
I abandon my lesson plan (a chat about the value of English with q. & a. followed with self introductions). Being Irish, I believe I can suppress the riot. I draw from my experience on Monto where school was a place of strict learning and discipline.
I’m from a large family, we lived in a grand neighborhood, Monto. All of us, the families living in cramped flats without running water, were poor. Times were hard in Ireland in those growing up days. We took care of each other, we shared food when we had it with those who didn’t. We behaved in school or we were caned. If we were punished when the parents heard about it, heaven help us. We’d get it again harder and longer. Cutting my teeth in Monto didn’t prepare me for this however.
The kids are smacked up on sugar, (empty cola bags in the garbage bear witness) and growing louder.
I release the neck and push the kid down in the closest chair and tell him not to move. I seize the money from the poker game in one hand and swing the kid making animal noises down off the desk with the other. I carry him sideways down the aisle, by his waist. He’s thrashing at both ends, having a whale of a time. Eight girls want to go to the toilet together.
“You can bloody well sit down and hold it!”
I do a headcount. Ten are awol. I stuff the money in my pocket. The kids are texting each other around the room. A girl hurls a bottle of water at a classmate (something about a buffalo) and it smacks her in the head. The two jump to their feet and square off, pulling hair, shoving, yelling, slapping. I separate them and put them in different corners. I first kid I grabbed is crawling on his hands and knees sneaking out of the class room. I beat him to the back door and lock it from the outside, and push him into his seat again.
A boy, pink lipsticked and wearing eye makeup blows me a kiss and winks at me while a sweet young girl asks me if I have a girlfriend. My head is done in. There are forty-five minutes left. Saints preserve me!
I’m to teach English.I bellow at them. The students are stunned silent by my ferocity.
“Right! Boys down on the floor, girls you too. Boys, pushups, girls sit ups! Ten of them! NOW!”
I bellow again. I take the kid I had by the neck and get him down. They get the idea. The physical effort wears some of the sugar off. I count, when I get to eight, I call out eight and a half, eight and three quarters. They groan.
Back upright in their seats, I write across the board THIS IS YOUR ENGLISH CLASS!
The kid who I held by the neck can not sit still. He is perpetual motion, the worst case of hyper active, attention deficit disorder I have seen. He’s in his desk, slams the drawer breaking it, he dives under the desk, then runs around the room, I grab him again and tell him to do five more sit ups.
The kids start calling out. “Game! Game!”
I tell the kids to get out their notebooks and a pen. Their assignment is to write three sentences about their family. The kids copy from each other, discuss the project in Thai but I do have some semblance of order. I walk around the class taking phones, playing cards, several mirrors and combs, and confiscate a condom balloon.
The bell sounds. They all scream “Thank you Teacher, see you tomorrow!” as I run down the stairs, notebooks and their stuff in my arms.
In the teachers’ office I hand over the cash from the poker game, phones, combs, mirror, and condom balloon to the principal. I report ten students were absent. I sit down to mark the sentences. Each book has the exact same three sentences as the others. Each sentence has carefully been corrected with liquid paper to record the same mistakes.
"I famlee have four peeples. I love famlee. Them went to go to home night sleep. She name is Mother."
My heart sinks with a thud My future flashes in front of my eyes. I am in trouble.

Anonymous said...

That was the short version -Bibi

Anonymous said...

Really chopped the story to get it in the "leave your comment" space. Before asking why the age span in classes - kids here are shoved from relative to relative - across provinces. They are placed according to a small test on ability. In one class I have a 4 ft kid and a 6 footer. I have cross gendered and geniuses, delinquents and severly troubled. Emotional wrecks and loveable misfits. Maybe 6 normal kids out of 30 in each grade. Each grade has different levels, 2.11, 2.12, and so on. Totally different at the languagee school (read upper end)where I work weekends. writer, Bibi

150 said...

Hi Bibi!

If you're writing for an American/UK audience, I'd recommend making it clear that you're in Thailand immediately, in the first sentence if possible. Say "scrawny neck of a 13-yr-old Thai boy" or have the desk kid sing a song in Thai, or something. Anything to clue us in as quickly as possible. Instead of thinking, "This is weird, I wonder where it is?" we all thought, "This never happens."

Evil Editor said...

If your goal is to sell this story to a Thai publication, okay. Otherwise we need to know the setting is an inner-city school in Bangkok (or wherever), or--as you may have noticed--we aren't gonna buy it. And even if we do buy it, try to get away from listing the horrors going on in the classroom, as it seems comical as the list grows.

Perhaps you should open with the setting:

September 4, 2008. My first day teaching English in Bangkok. I'm excited. I will draw from my experience in Monto, where school was a place of strict discipline. I open the door and step into my classroom . . . and immediately abandon my lesson plan.

Now we know this is set in a place with which we have no experience, no different than if it were set on the Klingon home world, so we're prepared to accept anything.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Evil, and you are right on all counts - it was sold to a mag in Hua Hin then unsold as the mag poohba said he wasn't abe to pay what he offered me to write it. (Economy is not good here.)I said fine, we shook hands and it is not published. I did intend for the story to get comical, which was what he wanted - for some reason an Irishman's experiences as a new teacher in Thailand. So there you have it. Yes, putting in the country up front would have made it clearer for the readers. Sorry for the confusion. Regards, Bibi (not Irish or a man)

_*Rachel*_ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Rachel ,
Went to your blog - your email is not in working order. Would love to tell about my first 4 years in China and last 2 in Thailand. Best regards,

Evil - sorry for using your space as a bridge - she asked, I tried to answer. Apologies.