The Secret To Building Positive Classroom Culture
We call my dad.
During class, on speakerphone, always unplanned, to talk about any and all issues that may arise. He's doing financial reporting things down in S. Florida, but we'll ring him up on his cell phone, and he'll always answer with a gruff intonation of his first and last names like it's a stranger on the line and not his first born son calling from the opposite coast, which inevitably sends the kids into spasms of glee, the intonation: "He sounds just like you!"
It started when I presented an exemplar essay that explained the myriad ways in which I have liked pirates far longer than it was fashionable, trendy, or Disney-permissible to enjoy piratical history, esthetics, and vocal stylings. The kids took issue with the first reason/ argument (that's a yellow for all you SUTW acolytes), which outlined the origins of my fascination and explained how the roots of all this lay in a mid-1980s trip to Disney World, wherein I repeatedly rode the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
THEM: How could you go on the ride when you were eight, if the movies came out like three years ago?
ME: The ride came before the movie.
Head-butted thusly with the surety of youth and inexperience, all I could think to do was call my dad for that ever valuable third-party validation. This he duly provided, while I grinned my biggest shit-eating grin and nodded like the king of the world. Since then, we've called to speak on a variety of issues, unevenly spaced out and completely unintentional, although I passed on a recent opportunity because it's more or less tax time.
MY DAD: [gruff intonation of first and last names]
THEM: [howls of laughter]
ME: Dad, you're on speaker-phone with a bunch of 7th and 8th graders, so don't say any bad words or anything.
MY DAD: And just why would you tell me something like that?
THEM: When he's angry he sounds just like you! [more howls]
ME: Do you remember the name of the guy we met in Costa Rica that one time...
We call my dad. It's a state change. It's third-party validation. It's my Minnesota-farm-boy-turned-corporate-financial-officer father interacting with teenaged Latino immigrants. It's the secret to everything.
Now go pile your Harry Wong books up in the back yard... and light a match.