The administrators have reached the end of their ropes and, starting this Monday past, put three of the classes I teach on lockdown.
What brought this about? A simple matter of a majority of the students in the class perpetually being where they were not supposed to be: wandering the hallways, visiting the other academy either up or down stairs, bursting into classrooms (mine being a particular favorite since I like to keep my door open for the cross ventilation it provides), or invading the office of the counselor assigned to special education.
The lockdown means the students in those classes only leave the room for lunch and electives. If they want to go to the bathroom they are escorted. Instead of moving from one teacher to the next for instruction in different subjects, we go to them like a tribe of itinerant craftspeople toting our chart paper, markers and other tools of our trade.
This idea of bringing the mountain to Mohammed was supposed to be so hard on the students that they would see the light and reform their behaviors in order to be allowed to once again join the ebb and flow of the other hormone-laden middle schoolers crowding the halls during period change. Instead, it is the teachers who are feeling put out of place and punished for not managing our classes better even though we have been told repeatedly that is not the case.
This has been particularly hard on me because, even though only three of the six classes I teach are on lockdown, the Read 180 program I use is not portable and depends on the student being able to use the computers in my classroom. Where the English teacher relies on the library in each classroom, and the social studies, math and science teachers load themselves up like pack animals and carry their materials, I wander from one classroom-cum-prison cell to another empty handed.
After spending a couple of days guarding the door and watching the clock, I dug through my packed-away goods and found my stash of dice. I have fraction dice; 8, 10, 12 and 20-sided dice; and foam dice but what I wanted was my deep supply of regular six-sided dice to teach my students how to play Petals Around the Rose, a puzzling game I learned during my student teaching (it may be the most important thing I learned while student teaching).
Petals Around the Rose, the name is significant, requires five dice and I carry another five to give to the person who figures out the scoring. Figuring out the scoring is the whole point of the game. (If you’re interested you can play an online version of the game.)
Magic. Rattling those bones got everyone’s attention. So far I’ve given away two sets of dice, one to an 8th grader and one to a sixth grade boy. I wish I’d taken a picture of their excited faces when I told them they had figured out the game and would now have the privilege and equipment to teach the game to others.
When I walk into a locked down classroom now instead of having to duck as another projectile whizzes by my head, I am greeted by shouts of “did you bring the dice?” That’s a good thing because today I was told the week-long lockdown has been extended indefinitely.
I better buy some more dice.