16-year-old boys are gross. This is stating an obvious fact, but on Monday I saw further validation of it. In the middle of my honors class, a student ate a spider. I just need to take a second to first say EWWW. We’re not even going to pay attention to the fact that I was already freaked out due to my fear of spiders. Two boys spotted one floating in front of them, and plucked it off of its silky thread. The other kids expressed their disgust at how close it was to one student’s mouth. The boys squished it on the floor, and then one of them picked it back up, and as I watched open-mouthed in horror, placed it in his mouth. One girl had her hands over her mouth, her eyes wide as saucers, and I would have laughed at the comedy of it if I hadn’t been feeling physically ill.
The class was going nuts, and I sent the bug-eater out of class. Afterwards, I informed him that he needed to serve detention with me the next day. (There are many times as a teacher when I find myself doing things I’d never imagined or stringing together words in a very unexpected combination, and this was certainly one of those times.) When I asked him what the heck he was thinking, he said he felt like the people wanted it, so he did it. I told him no, you just wanted to show off. At his detention, I told him he needed to write a letter. There had been a couple of other incidents in the last couple of weeks, and so I requested that he write about how his behavior is sometimes disruptive and unacceptable, and how he can go about improving it. He wrote a nice little letter, complete with diagrams.
I talked to the student at the end of the detention, and told him that on his last report card, I wrote that he talks too much, but also that he is a pleasure to have in class. Interesting combo, huh? I explained that while he has his obnoxious teenage boy moments, he’s also a nice, bright kid who shows a lot of enthusiasm for the material. That enthusiasm is wonderful, but he needs to harness it a bit and show it in a more appropriate manner, and stop with the antics and outbursts that become distractions. He agreed, and said that he would try. Our talk ended with smiles, and I hope that now, when I cue him to quiet and calm down, he will be quicker to adjust his behavior and will not allow it to escalate to such disruptive (or gross) proportions.