Losing Theirs and Blaming it on Me

Part of my day is best summed up by rephrasing Rudyard Kipling:

If you can keep your head when all about you 
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
You will be a teacher.

Today, in my worse class (not my worst) my students were supposed to go up to the front and practice their speech contest speeches. They were not required to memorize them–unless they wanted bonus points–and it wasn’t necessary for them to bring the “show” part of “show and tell”. The day was mostly for me to see 1) that everyone was finished 2) check the times of the speeches and 3) see who had a loud speaking voice as the voices usually disappear when students give their final performance.

I reminded them that it was speech practice day and my reminder triggered a wave of excuses with the most common being “I forgot my speech paper.” If I didn’t have a copy of it (because they’d neglected to make a copy for me–long story) I told them “Congratulations! That means you’re going to get bonus points!”

(Note: this level of cruelty/sarcasm/snark is the only time I speak with cheerful exclamation points.)

This triggered a wave of panic. Students quickly rushed to find their speech paper or to quickly write a new one. This meant I had to field a wave of students asking me to check hastily written “speeches” of barely more than a few lines.

Some students were in such a state of panic they asked me to look at their hastily written speeches whilst other students were up front reading. I’d chase them away and get dirty looks as if I didn’t care about them.

Eventually, everyone read something–often with the caveat “my speech paper at home is better” which is roughly the equivalent of “my other wife is a supermodel” (or something like that).

I reminded that next week will be the final performance and they won’t be allowed to use their scripts. They will also have to bring their “show” items or draw pictures of them.

If they were panicked today, next week should be  a lot of fun.

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