They trickled in a few at a time, those condemned to spend at least a day in school prison .
Welcome to in-school suspension! As your substitute today, I will direct you to your seat for the day. You are to be quiet and work on the assignments given to you.
“Can I go to the bathroom?”
Not until the break.
“I don’t have any work. What do I do?”
I will call the office for your work. Until then, copy this paper and definitions.
“Are you going to be our ISS teacher for the year? Where’s Mr. Flippermunk?”
No. I am here for the day.
“I don’t want to sit here. Can I sit with my friend?”
No. Sit in your assigned seat.
“Can I get a drink of water?”
No. Sit down. Everyone be quiet and do your work. Put your feet down, Oliver. Turn around, Heidi.
“I aam turned around woman. I ain’t botherin’ no body.”
Sit down James. Get to work.
[Sounds settle down. Silence for exactly 3 minutes]
“I need help. Can you help me?”
Shh. [motions to come up to the front] Bring your book. Raise your hand next time.
“Ok!” [goes to get book, smack another child’s head]
“Hey you fool (substituted for obscenity), stop messing! I’ll come and beat your head off.”
Be quiet and get back to work.
On and on it went for a full six hours. The punishment for skipping school, dresscode violations, insubordination, etc., is to put the violators in a room together for a full day with one adult supervising. Yeah, that’s smart.
The assistant principal directed me to make sure they did their work and were quiet. Then he gave me a pitiful look and thanked me profusely. That, of course, was my hint that I’d accepted a “challenging” (education-speak for uncooperative, defiant, disobediant) day. Had I not spent a year in that environment, I would have run screaming after the first half-hour. In fact, most “normal” adults would have done just that.
Instead, I waited out the day patiently, reminded of why middle school is not for me. I think of The Breakfast Club and how that group of misfits (pretty tame by today’s standards, and no that is not a call for another Generation Y remake of a perfectly decent and eloquent 80’s movie) bonded one Saturday. I get too analytical on school stereotypes and role reversals….oy, that’s for another day.
Middle school. You can almost smell the hormones.