The OF Blog: A "Weird" Teaching Story

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A "Weird" Teaching Story

Over at Jeff VanderMeer's blog, he's holding a contest where people are to post comments of roughly 300-500 words in length about a true "weird" story. Three people will be chosen by him and his wife Ann to receive a series of personalized anthologies that they have completed or are in the process of editing, with the possibility of a few honorable mentions as well. Tempted by such a prize, and knowing that teaching is one of the strangest, most weird fields one will see, as all sorts of crap and abject stupidity combines with old, creaky buildings lacking in basic maintenance to form some truly odd tales. The one that follows is one of those, from my time teaching in a rural West Tennessee school last year:

I walked into a disaster zone one Monday morning. The window, already shattered by incompetent workers who supposedly were repairing the roof, looked even worse as the student climographs I had taped there to cover the cracks were all askew. There was a horrid smell in the room, and there were drops of a yellowish chalk-like substance, almost like paint, on some of the desks. I hurried to clean up this foul mess before the 8 AM bell. Later, as the students entered the room, they too began to complain of that almost rotten, fetid odor. A quick search was done after homeroom ended and one of the students found a dead bird, hidden amongst their books. It had apparently succumbed to dehydration, but that was only the first of a whole wave of dead birds that spring semester.

Around this time, I had decided to add a little "decoration" to my classroom, and as I was lacking in suitable geography and history posters, I decided to use a little gag gift that a college buddy of mine had given me. Little did I know just how powerful of a scarecrow this talisman would be.

The next Monday, I entered my classroom and again was greeted with evidence of a dead bird and its droppings, all around the room but in a little pristine area in one front corner, towards which the dead bird's body pointed, as if it had died of fright. The week after, two more dead birds, each in the same area, both also turned up as if the sight in front of them was just too unbearable.

It took about six weeks (and numerous complaints) for the workers to patch the roof and stop the insane suicidal flights of the starlings. Six weeks, eight dead birds and one that was too terrified to do more than to flap its wings weakly as it gave a terrible squawk as I entered the room.

Now one probably is wondering what man-made creation could be so terrifying to these poor animals as to make them die under its dire glaze? Well, that classroom scarecrow was nothing more than this:


Anonymous said...

For a while there, I though the scarecrow was Tairy and his raptor gaze. :)

Larry Nolen said...

If only! But going back to my college days, my best friend and I had a running gag about Shatner, so when I got that as a gift Christmas 2005, I laughed and laughed. I've since used it to scare my sister's Yorkie/poodle mix when it comes over to visit.

Yes, I'm that evil.

Neth said...

to keep things off topic - have you seen this book, Larry. I think you'll like it ;)

Larry Nolen said...

No I hadn't! Sweet! :D Now I know what to buy my best friend for his birthday in October! :P

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