Daily I face my computer and try to remember how I learned to teach. Sounds exciting, right? When I am writing my memoir, I am humbled how my first year classes must have suffered. The teaching learning curve is straight up.
I recall how there was a stealing issue in my first school in New Orleans. My purse couldn’t be secured because my desk drawers didn’t lock. I noticed that a large, furry spider abided in my purse drawer. She returned no matter how many times I removed her. I named her Susie. So, I decided to use her, not abuse her.
After my class was seated, but still loud and visiting with each other, I asked,
“Please, get quiet.”
Conversations continued and their laughter grew louder.
I reached into my desk, picked up Susie and held her on my hand for all to see. Bombshell. Instant silence.
"This is Susie."
“Put that spider away!" shouted Alex.
“ I’m leavin',"screeched Joanne.
“I just wanted to introduce you to Susie. She lives in my purse drawer. So, if any of you decide to visit my purse, know that you must ask Susie’s permission. " I put her back in the drawer, closed it, and began teaching the lesson of the day.
My envelope lesson was use nature to help clear the chatter from the air. The unexpected is a strong educational tool. However, I now realize that was quite risky. What if a child had severe acrophobia? I’d be called on the carpet or even fired for abuse in this day. I guess I’d better keep Susie and this technique in a hidden place.