Yes, it’s a teachable moment, but what’s the lesson?

So today I got called on the carpet for something that happened yesterday morning. It was my class’s day to work at our sister school for our vocational work site experience. It’s a fairly big production.  As I was  exhorting my kids to take one thing each to pack into in the van (OK, who’s got the brooms? Brooms in next! stick end first! OK, mop sticks and dust catchers next! ‘Johnny, don’t run the dry mop into the dirt! Victor, you may NOT climb in through the back door!) I am approached by kitchen worker and a full time vocational student, “X needs a ride in to [sister school] and he has to sit in the front” Me, in the middle of loading students and cleaning products in to the van, reply matter of factly, ‘Nope! You sit in the back, honey, I sit in the front.” Said student stormed off. I didn’t give it another thought, except to ascertain from the driver (a veteran employee) what the policy is for students riding in the front seat. Her reply was that it used to be the policy that no students were allowed in the front seat. Then some educators allowed it, so it became a policy of only with permission

I remember thinking to myself (it’s possible I thought out loud) “That’ll be the day I take a back seat to some 19 year old whipdick.”


So, today I got called to meet with the Queen and the Knave and they called me on the carpet for it. I was so surprised, I said “Oh so that’s what this is about!” The Queen said what did you think this was for? I had no idea. Truly. (Perhaps it was to thank me for stepping up to take a problem child out of another classroom, something I’d done two days ago?)


When I was given the basic outline of the situation from the student’s point of view, I was asked ‘you are equals, right?’ I said what do you mean by that? Right away The Knave said “that just makes me angrier to hear you say that!” He said, “I SEE your point; what I want to know is do you see it from his?”

“It was a teachable moment! Why didn’t you take the time to ask him: “why do you want to sit in the front? And the answer might have been ‘well I guess it’s not that important to me”

Why did you say that anyway?

Well, at that moment, I saw him as a student whom we were helping out making demands. I also said that I have severe motion sickness, which is why I need to sit in the front of a vehicle.

“Well, you didn’t explain that to him, did you?” asked the knave

Well, no, because he apparently stormed off…I’m sorry, but I was too occupied with the task at hand to notice…

Well, I was just wrong there.

Every moment with a student is a teachable moment. You squandered a valuable opportunity to connect with this fragile man child.





I mean, hmmmm…


A few points to make here: this man-child is 21 years old and about to age out of the system. Do we want him to think it’s OK to make unreasonable demands on his ‘co workers’ and ‘bosses?’ What are we setting him up for if we let him think this?

Secondly, I am a 57 year old woman. Once again, I say, “I refuse to take a back seat to some 21 year-old whip dick.”



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