Anyone Seen Elvira?


I had a 7th grade student named Jimmy who was a handful.  He was in my homeroom and math class.  I liked him and never had any real problems with him.  He was a nice kid, did well in class when he felt like it and had great parents. He always reminded me of Pigpen in Peanuts.  He was always disheveled and never picked up his feet when he walked.  He just shuffled along.  Middle school boys tend to do that anyway, but he had it down cold.  He always looked like he was barely aware of what was going on around him but it was just an act.  He had the mind of a leprechaun.  The wheels were always turning.  One time I caught him throwing pencils up at the ceiling trying to get them to stick in the tile.


One day I walked into his math class and you could just see something was up.  Everyone was smirking and giggling.  As I'm standing there processing this (nonchalantly, of course), one of the girls in the front row whispered to me that Jimmy was hiding in the teacher's coat closet right by the door and was going to jump out and scare me.


I went over to the closet and leaned back against the doors with my full weight. Then I announced to the class that I had brought in my pet black snake named Elvira to show everyone but she had gotten away.  I asked them "Anyone seen Elvira?"  I said "She shouldn't be hard to find, she's about six feet long. The last time she got out of her cage, she sneaked into the coat closet...." and about that time I took a shot between the shoulder blades from the closet doors. I stepped back and the doors flew open at the speed of light.  A wide-eyed Jimmy rushed by me and made a beeline for his seat.  I didn't know he could move that fast.   When the laughter died down I asked him "Jimmy did you see Elvira in there?"  All he could was shake his head.  Needless to say, he never tried to hide in the closet again nor did anyone else.


There's actually a lesson to be learned here.  Many teachers would have gotten him out of the closet and immediately started punishing him.  It's easy to do that, especially with troublemakers but it doesn't always work. You lose momentum and most importantly, teaching time.   A quick wit and a sense of humor sometimes work best.  Rather than disrupt the class, I just rolled it into a little  30 second ad lib performance.  I quickly resolved the situation,  gave the students a laugh and we were off on the day's work. Most importantly, I made my point to Jimmy and everyone else.  Mess with Mr. L and he'll mess with you back and he's good at it.


Si facile, omnes esset facere....Mister L.