Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Sh*rt

A kid, a nice kid, came into my first class yesterday morning wearing a black polo shirt that sported, in place of the polo player, alligator or whatever they usually have, big white letters bearing the charming legend seen on the left.

I hate sending my students to the dean, or anywhere else, and I can't remember having done so in at least ten years. I asked the kid "Hey, what does that say?" He reluctantly showed me. Then I said "Show it to the class." I repeated the request until he did. "Is that the message you want to send us?"

Later in the class I returned to the topic. "Hey, where did you get that shirt anyway?"

"St. Marks Place," he told me.

"Wow," I said. "I love that shirt. Maybe we could go on a field trip and get them for the whole class."

Later I brought it up yet again. "So where do you wear that shirt besides school? How do the people in your neighborhood like it? Ever been to a job interview? You gonna wear that shirt to your next one?"

I told a couple of my colleagues about this later. One said, "I would've sent him to the dean. That's absolutely unacceptable."

A region rep., right at that moment, walked into the office. I asked her what she would have done. She said she'd also have sent the kid to the dean. When a third colleague walked in, she told me, "I would have covered it with masking tape. I always carry it. Let me know if you ever need to borrow some."

I really like that idea, and regretted not having thought of it. In retrospect, though, I didn't have masking tape and I wasn't in reasonable proximity of the teacher who did.

Later, I saw the kid outside the trailers. He has a bag much like mine, but with a thicker shoulder strap. He was conspicuously using it to cover the message on his shirt. I asked him if he'd let his last teacher see it. He said no. A bunch of his friends were there. I made him show them his shirt, and asked what they thought about the message.

They didn't care for it.

So my method may have worked. Still, on Monday I'll tell him he is under no circumstances to wear that shirt to my class again, and if he does, his mommy and daddy will have to come to school to get him, his shirt, or the both of them.
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