Learning the Hard Way

18 years ago I learned a valuable lesson the hard way.  It was the day after our Christmas band concert and I was just a few months into my first teaching job.  Standing up in front of my 8th grade brass and percussion students, mostly boys, I was thinking about how hard they had worked preparing for the concert, rehearsing every day since the beginning of the school year.  I wanted to give them a break, which would also give me a chance to get to know them better.  My plan was that we would first discuss how the concert had gone.  Then we would play a game like 20 questions or something.

The first part of my plan went well.  The students shared their impressions of the performance, and we identified areas for improvement.  It was interesting to hear their points of view.

Then I made the mistake of asking the class an open-ended question like, “So, what do you want to do now?”

Without hesitating, Kurt – a tall, asthmatic trombone player with thick glasses – stood up, lifted his chair over his head, and yelled, “RIOT!”  He then ran out of the room, chair and all, with most of the class following right behind.

They ran down the music hallway, took a left, a right, and another right, ending up in the cafeteria.  I ran after them, taking a right, and then a left, heading them off in the cafeteria and leading them back to the band room, all the while nervously looking up and down the hallway for the principal.

Needless to say, I was quite relieved to have them back in their seats.  After taking attendance, I avoided my earlier mistake by giving the class a choice between two different activities; no more open invitations.  They chose to play 20 questions, so we played a version with the class divided into two teams and myself as the moderator.  It was fun, I managed to keep my job, and it has been a tradition for my bands after every concert ever since.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Oh, that is hilarious! I love the fact that he is asthmatic and has thick glasses and the instigator. What a classic teaching story.


  2. Posted by Angela Shaver on April 15, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Hilarious! I can’t believe that actually happened!


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