I find that embarrassment is a pretty good deterrent to continuing distractions in the classroom. Passing notes instead of doing work is one such distraction I tolerate only at a minimal level. I warn the students that I read everything I find on notes being passed around or found on the floor. I even suggest that I might share a few of the more interesting ones out loud with the class.
“In general, if you want to keep it private, don’t do it in class.” More than a few haven’t taken me seriously.
Such was the incident in a 5th grade class last week when three girls were fighting over a tiny address book in the back of the classroom. After an ignored warning to “knock it off and put it away” I walked back and confiscated it, telling the owner she could have it back after class.
Returning to my desk at the front of the class, I made a show of opening the book, turning the pages, not really reading lists of names, addresses, Face Book handles and email addresses of classmates. Every now and again I’d make non-committal comments like: “Hmm! Interesting!, Oh, wow!” while surreptitiously watching the book owner squirm in her seat. After a minute or so, I believed that I had made my point, was ready close the book and place it in the desk drawer until the final bell.
That’s when I turned the page and saw it! The sudden shock or surprised look on my face must have registered or maybe it was something I uttered under my breath but the kid knew I had seen it.
There, entered on the next page was MY personal email address!!!
Now it was me that had that stunned, surprised and pissed all at the same time look. I didn’t want to overreact in front of the rest of the class. I simply looked at the book owner and gestured that she should approach the desk.
When she came close enough, I turned the page and pointed with a questioning look.
“Where and when did you get this?” I whispered, pointing to my email address. Her explanation was simple and direct: “From the paper on your clipboard. I saw it when you were helping me with rounding up numbers in math.”
Sure enough, I see that part of my contact information on the end of day status report has slipped just a bit beyond the bottom of lesson plan that is on top.
There wasn’t much I could do at this point but to but cross out the email address and warn the girl that I wasn’t happy that she had copied stuff that she knew she wasn’t supposed to have access to without permission.
I normally try to end blog entries with clever quips or a summation phrase but…nothing comes to mind for this one.
Still stunned and pissed I guess.