So, one of my students broke one of my rules, today. I let them use their smartphones in class to do quick research...and most of them do. They're actually really good about doing research instead of texting friends or getting on whatever social media site they're addicted to. What I don't permit is listening to music while in class. I often get questions from one student that they all need the answer to, whether they know it or not, especially on free write days (like today).
So, today was a freewrite day. I tend to make abouut three or four circuits around the class, checking up on my students as they write. This morning, I helped a Saudi foreign exchange student with their American English phrasing, made suggestions about what kind of evidence would work for another student's main claims, and helped a third find the best way to find evidence--the library databases.
Between helping the second and third student, I rounded the end of a table...and stopped. One of my students, rather a smartass, has an earbud attached to his iPhone, tucked in his ear.
So, I plant my hands on the table, lean into them, and stare at the kid. He screamed, clapped both hands over his face, and starts whining at me: "Oh, my God, you scared the shit out of me. Why do you do these things to me? Stop starin' at me!"
I asked him "What did you do wrong?"
"Ma'am, I was born black!"
"So...being born black forced you to choose to break my rules?"
"No, no. That was...uh, that was all her fault," he says pointing at the girl sitting next to him. "She told me to listen to music. She was going to shoot me if I didn't."
My other student goes "Shut up! My guns are all at home!"
"You got guns?" he squealed. "See? See? She's gonna kill me."
Then, he looks up, sees me still staring at him, and squawks. "Oh, please, stop staring at me. I can feel it boring a hole in my head."
"What did you do wrong?"
"I let you catch me." He bows his head.
"No, you chose to break a rule. That was a choice, and your responsibility."
"Yeah, okay. It was all on me." And at this point, he's real subdued. So I pat his shoulder, tell him not to do it again, and ask if there was anything he needed help with.
I have had students texting in class, answering a phone in class, checking facebook in class. I have never before had a student listen to music after that rule having been announced. I have never had a student try to bluff his way out of having broken a rule by claiming that I was picking on him because he was black.
And I have never, ever had a student wilt, then take the lesson of making his own choice, either way, so well.
6 hours ago