I was doing hallway duty. That’s where I stand at the top of the stairs and greet everyone as they come in–ask them about their weekend, compliment the new hair-do. Really, I’m supervising, but I don’t like to feel like bad cop when kids clearly haven’t finished their energy drink and I’m only into my third cup of coffee, which is getting cold in the front office.

There are a bunch of rules I have to attend to–taking off of headphones unless you are a member of the CIA, removing hats as one enters the building–the roof leak has been fixed and we have no  outdoor classrooms, and please pull up your pants–the full moon is next week, and “say no to crack” covers sagging.

Today, I heard the “Ohhhhhh!” chorus. That’s when one person says “Ohhhhh,” and everyone follows suit because they have nothing better to do. Usually this is just teen behavior, but at times it precipitates a larger event, so I attend to this religiously.

I walk over. I give “the eye.”  I don’t have “the eye.” They said I’d get it as a teacher, but I don’t. I just can’t pull off mean. I was listening to peer this weekend at the Ed Camp Boston session on “How to be a Badass Teacher.” More on that in another post. But suffice to say, he couldn’t pull off being mean either, “Mr.” his students said, “You just don’t look right when you’re mean.” Neither do I.

But I can pull off annoying. Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 8.02.43 AMI go to the circle of “Ohhhhhhh!”s and I stand. I invade the space. Now no one can secretly check a message or put on a hat. They can’t say the “f” word or be rude. And the “Ohhhhhh”s stop.

“What’s going on here?” I inquire. “I’m reasonably sure this isn’t Vinnie Barbarino training school.”

Blank stares. No one knows who Vinnie Barbarino is. I am old.


More blank stares.

Then, the perfect answer.

“Miss. We’re practicing our vowels. Reading skills.” Suddenly the chorus re-erupts. This time, it’s a little different.

“Aaaaaaaaa, eeeeeee, iiiiiiiiii, oooooooo uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!” I stare. I turn. I leave. I am clearly defeated. Game, point, match, circle of Ohhhhh-shouting guys. Time to go.

But not before someone adds in, “AND SOMETIMES YYYYYYYYYY!”

Literacy Common Core achieved.

The bell rings.

I am saved.