Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Professional perils

For the past few weeks one of my classes, a group of secondes, has been routinely interrupted during module (half group sessions) by students from the math module coming to get math textbooks. Apparently, these books are too heavy for everyone to carry their own and so only the strongest or the smartest or the stupidest carry them, I'm not sure what they're system is. In any event, the math teacher, a young man who is a stagiaire (sort of like a student teacher), deals with this problem by sending kids to my room to get the needed books.
They come to my door make a perfunctory knock and come in and unceremoniously ask for math books. It doesn't matter what is going on in my room at the moment, my students all immediately stop what they're doing and wait for the books to be produced. It all happens pretty quickly all things considered but it's a damned nuisance and I've been nursing a little grudge about it for a little while now.
I don't run into this teacher regularly so it has sort of slipped my mind only to be resurfaced each time the kids descend ob my room for math books. Now, however, we at the end of the year and it seems too late to really do anything. Nevertheless, this morning as I was checking my box in the teachers room I ran into the math teacher and couldn't stop myself (after saying good morning first, of course) from saying that the interruptions were, well, annoying.
He shrugged and said that he needed all the kids to have books. I shrugged back and wondered what I was supposed to do about the kids barging into my room like that. He seemed surprised. "Don't they knock?" At that point I despaired of getting anywhere with him since the point wasn't really if they knocked or not. He promised that he would speak to them (about not knocking, I'm afraid). I nodded politely.
A few minutes later I'm monitoring a test in my class of premieres. My room is as quiet as a tomb as the kids work on what I'm afraid is a almost too difficult and too long a test. From my desk in the front of the room I can hear noise emanating from an adjoining room but I don't focus on it. Soon however some of my students ask me to go next door to ask them to quiet down. It is loud, I concede but I am wary of being asked to leave the room...then I remember that this room has a door at the back which leads directly into the other classroom. I walk to the door, my students watch me expectantly. I knock. I hear a muffled voice, not an adults, say, "Oui?" The noise in there continues unabated.
One of my students motions to me that the door is not unlocked. I open it and am surprised to find myself peering over the shoulders of very hooligans who've been interrupting my classes for the past month. They turn and smile their hound dog smiles as if they've been lately engaged in something very funny.
On the far side of the room I see the math teacher looking very much like a caged animal. He is pacing across rapidly across the front of the room...he seems far away. He still hasn't noticed me when I clear my throat. He looks at me; I feel sorry immediately.
"We're taking a test in here." I say it simply, calmly and matter of factly.
His room is momentarily silent. As I quietly close the door, I hear the room begin to come back to life. The door clicks and through the wall I hear the math teacher shout, "Calmez-vous!"
It isn't clear whether anyone hears him. I look at my own students. They look at me. We exchange wry smiles...I'm proud of them, not that we haven't had our own moments (we have indeed) but it could be worse for them and for me.
K

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