I couldn’t believe he belched in my class—and it was on purpose.
This was my first year as a teacher, teaching grade 7. This guy was full of energy, and a bit of a stinker too, so I had my hands full. Being so new to the profession, I hadn’t developed the instincts for dealing with these sorts of infractions, so I told him he’d have to stay in at recess and write lines. I hadn’t even had to write lines when I was a kid, so I have no idea where this came from.
I grabbed a red pen and wrote on a half-sheet of ivory paper: “The audible expulsion of gastric air is a lewd and unacceptable form of communication.” He chuckled. The other students thought it was funny too. By the way, this young fella is now a veteran Biology teacher and volleyball coach at Surrey Christian School.
Lines to Laugh At
One of the rules in my grade 6 class back in 1988 was that you had to stay seated while eating lunch. An infraction resulted in writing this line, 10 times: “Excessive mobility at such times revered for the consumption, mastication and digestion of food stuffs will necessarily lead to a mess and possibly death by choking.”
Not my best work, certainly, but it was somewhat effective at dealing with inappropriate behaviours, and students thought it was funny so I kept at it.
When two girls were caught passing notes they had to write this line 10 times: “The creation, publication and distribution of written material which has as its purpose to convey harmful, stupid or irrelevant information, is not tolerated as it works contrary to the task at hand.”
A couple of lads who were caught shooting paper wads at each other got this one: “It is illegal to convert the potential energy of any object into kinetic with intent to annoy.”
For a student who is compulsively late: “Blatant disregard for the institutional timetable will not be tolerated her to for as it leads to the creation of an undisciplined and anarchistic environment.”
Little Johnny was caught using a pen to fire a spit-wad at a classmate. While discussing the infraction and possible consequences, he pleaded with me that I allow him to write lines. I wasn’t feeling creative that day and told him I didn’t have time to think of the line he’d have to write. He offered to write it himself; I consented.
Here’s what he came up with: “The use of air powered plastic tubes to target unsuspecting bystanders with saliva drenched wood products is a practice I will refrain from in Mr. DeJong’s institute of learning.”
A former grade 7 student, who now sends his children to our school got this one: “The deliberate audible release of intestinal gas is both offensive and distracting, and it strikes at the very foundation of civilization. Retention to a more acceptable time and location will spare my peers as well as retard the collapse of the civilized world.”
My favourite and the last line I ever wrote was for gum chewing in class: “Members of the bovine and undulate families need to chew a cud for the purposes of digestion. Since it is my aspiration to evolve beyond these, I will emulate the behaviour of a more advanced species.”