So it seems I’m inadvertently back on playground duty.
No, I haven’t set foot in a school and I really didn’t mean for it to happen. Let me explain…
Since leaving teaching and returning to the city, my life has settled into a rhythm; a nice, relaxed, stress-free rhythm.
Part of my new day is going to the park to walk the dog.
For the first week I always seemed to end up at the park around two o’clock, we’d have a meander around, I’d sit on a bench and Missy would turn into a wolf and bark ferociously at any dog, who has the audacity to come anywhere within a metre radius. 2pm is nicely placed, time-wise, I get a bit of baking done before and some writing done, after I’ve been in the fresh air, clearing my head.
Usually, I let Missy decide which route she wants to take and I noticed that when I do, she always gets to a certain point, just as all the kids are coming out of the local high school. I started thinking it was because she was missing all the kids that she used to see every day. The kids who would call her name and give her hugs and tummy rubs and she was trying to get that feeling again…
But it can’t be that, dogs don’t think like that, do they?
(Those of you who know Missy, make your own minds up).
Anyway, sure enough, the kids stop and make a fuss of her and Missy runs off back to the car, happy.
But then, one day last week…
As we were approaching the certain spot, my Teacher’s spidey sense, started to activate, something was afoot. The kids who, on the face of it, were simply walking home, were seeming to drag their feet and walk much slower.
The flow was somehow off.
Every teacher knows, when the flow of large groups of kids moving in one direction is off,
nothing good can come of it.
As I neared the entrance to the park, there was something unspoken in the atmosphere.
Kids were loitering…
I knew what that meant.
I tensed, because I knew that there was going to be a fight and I was going to have to use…
the Teacher Voice
The Teacher Voice is that certain tone of voice, which is like a dog whistle for children (and some adults!). Kids immediately stop whatever they are doing and await further instruction. I don’t know when I acquired it, but I know that it is the common denominator in teachers with good classroom management. They all have a decent Teacher Voice.
I remember (about 4 years ago), leaving the Language Assistant with the class, while I escorted a rascal to the Head of Department’s room next door. In the two minutes it took, I returned to a riot in my room. I walked in and said,
Just one word, spoken loudly, not shouted, brought silence to a classroom of kids.
After the lesson, the language assistant said, “How do I get one of those voices?”
I replied, “The same way you get to Carnegie Hall”
Which made me chuckle, but went completely over her head, because, well, she was nineteen and German!
Anyway, back to the park.
To be honest, I was a little nervous.
I hadn’t used the Teacher Voice for three months, what if I’d lost it?
As this thought flashed into my mind, the fight started.
If it’s a one-on-one, I thought, cowardly, I’d just walk on, maybe just walking past would stop it. I looked over and it was a three against one situation.
Of course, it was, because that was going to be my day now…
Like the terminator, my mind ran through the super quick Teacher Analysis algorithm:
relatively small crowd of kids, as it had just started,
offenders looked Year 8 ish, or more likely Year 9s, (Those pesky Year 9s… Grr!)
which means that physical intervention is probably not needed, a stern comment in Teacher Voice would suffice.
Then the Appropriate Phrase Simulation algorithm began:
Don’t want to inflame anything – so no aggressive, Hey!
Definitely don’t want to engage any more than necessary – so no questions like, ‘What’s going on?’
Stick to statements.
Phrase chosen, I use my best Teacher Voice.
“I hope that’s just a play fight!’
Immediately, the boys jumped apart and the crowd began to disperse.
I walked away thinking,
“I still got it!”
But then I thought, what would you have done, if they hadn’t stopped?
As I was pondering this, walking past the remnants of the crowd, a little gobby one – there’s always a little gobby one – says to me,
“What would you have done, if they hadn’t stopped?”
To which I smiled and said,
“I have absolutely no idea.”