Substitute Teaching: Science (WLHS 2)

Teenager logic is goofed up. I know this. I’ve known this for a long time. I knew this when I was a teenager. I know this as a parent.

The students were in a slight Catch-22 situation: the teacher gave poor directions. In each class, a quarter of the students had to take a test and the others had to work on lab worksheets. The teacher said said the class had to be silent and respectful for the test takers and to work in pairs on the worksheets. I read this out loud to the students after I gave the students my three standard rules (no e-devices, raise hands & sign-out to leave the classroom). High school students always get upset by the no e-devices thing (“why do you hate technology). Their teacher had a big sign posted that said no cell-phones or music which I pointed to. They were still grumbling when I read the teachers contradictory instructions. That got them going in every class: “how can we work in pairs and be silent at the same time?” and “how can I work silently without music?” and “how am I supposed to work without checking wikipedia if I can’t talk to my partner?”

Eventually when the uproar dies down, I explain they can work in pairs if they remain quiet enough for the test takers: “whisper whisper whisper.” This works for a few minutes, but eventually I have to remind them and then the ones I remind to be quiet think I’m picking on them.

In each of the four classes I taught today there was one boy who decided to shout at me about being singled out: “they’re talking over there!” “Yeah, they’re much quieter than you.” This would go on for a couple of minutes until it got silly enough for the other kids to tell him to “shut-up.”

Except in third period.

This kid went on for twenty minutes at the top of his voice. A teacher from next door came over and closed my door, because this kid was so loud.

He claimed: “you’re picking on me, because I’m not mormon.”

I said: “first, I don’t know you. Second, you’re being disrespectful for shouting when others are taking a test. Third, I’m asking you to be silent and remain seated because of your behavior and no other reason.”

He says: “I hate all you mormons!”

Class: GASP! (This is Utah Valley, even the kids in gangs are mormons–mostly)

I said: “Well, you’re done. Go to the office!” I called the office and let them know he was coming.

I’m not perfect and am no angel, but I thought I made a good deal with the class that was easily understood. The only explanation for the offended teenage boys is simply teenaged logic is screwy: “the sub is telling me to be quiet, he’s picking on me” (I’ve heard: “because I’m a jock” “because I have long hair” “because I’m brown” “because I’m the only boy”).


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