Today in school I was teaching about tone in your writing. How to select the correct words to create your desired tone. This, in turn, creates the right mood with your reader. When you are able to command tone, you are essentially able to command the emotions people experience. Powerful stuff. My students ate it up.
I was talking about how we can use the same words but in different ways to create different tones (tomorrow they will get a word bank of vocabulary words and they’ll have to write one paragraph using those words that creates one tone, and then write a second paragraph using the same words but creating a different tone). Today I thought I would show them visually what I was talking about. I found this video on YouTube of the original movie trailer for “Mary Poppins,” and then I found a second spoof trailer for Mary Poppins that turned the movie into a horror movie. They used the same songs, the same video footage, but the presentation of the material created a different tone. Just like we can do in our writing. My students continued to eat it up.
By my 3rd class, I felt like a rock star.
Enter my projection screen.
I went to pull down my projection screen during 3rd period so I could play the video clips and I could not get the screen to catch and stay down. I’d pull, and it would go flying back up to the top. I’d pull, it’d go flying. Pull, fly. Pull, fly. At this point, I started laughing at myself. “HELP! SOMEONE HELP!” I yelled out to my students.
Any other class would have died laughing and come to help me out (or at least save me the embarrassment of standing there like a cartoon pulling on a window shade). But this particular class is *special.* I’ve always thought people have the wrong idea about middle school kids. 95% of them are cool, down to earth, respectful, and easy going.
The other 5% were in my 3rd class this morning.
These kids are too cool for school, and so instead of laughing along with me, they started snickering behind my back. Then when I’d turn around to laugh with them (because it was pretty funny, I have to admit), they’d stop laughing and just give me these blank stares.
Finally, I picked out one of the football players and asked him to come try. I figured I’d let him see how awkward it felt to have people staring at you without offering to help you out. But on the first try, he got that damn projection screen to stick. Which only intensified the snickering.
Now, not much frazzles me when I’m teaching. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten really flustered in a class before. Middle school kids and I get along really well, and so being with them feels comfortable and natural. Nothing about them flusters me.
That class had me so flustered by their mean spirited laughter that I continued to step all over myself in class for the rest of the period. I was walking through the rows of desks and randomly fell off my wedge shoe, tripping and catching myself on that same darn football players desk (naturally…). I spelled about 10,000 words wrong on my board as I was writing, only to have each mistake pointed out with an eye roll one of the 5%. And when I tried to speak, I kept repeating myself or, even worse, contradicting myself.
Finally, by the time there were 5 minutes left in class, I stopped talking in the middle of a sentence and said, “I give up. Pack up and you can talk quietly at your desks.”
I’ve been in a funk since that class this morning. Nothing blows your good mood as quickly as one of the 5% of middle schoolers. But I will not be deterred. I have an awesome pair of hillbilly false teeth that I will be breaking out in that class tomorrow. I am going to force those kids to laugh at me to my face so that I can laugh with them. You can’t pick on someone who is already laughing at themselves, so tomorrow I’m going to be laughing my head off. Me and my hillbilly teeth.
Take THAT, you 5% middle school kids! Nobody laughs at me more than I do! Period!