I was passing back papers as soon as the bell rang. That’s my MO. I have them sorted in the order of my seating chart, and carry them to the hall as I supervise runners and PDAers, then pass them out when the bell rings and I enter the classroom. That gives the pupils something to do during the 30 seconds that I need to take attendance, then we go over the answers before moving on.
I handed a stack of seven papers to a lad. I do it every single day. He knows he’s the one who starts the passing chain. Seven papers. Not a stack of 20 reams. Seven papers. Not too heavy. Laddy had his trapper/keeper on top of his desk. He was fiddling with something, perhaps his pencil, and reached as I was laying them on the trapper. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom waits for no pencil. Her schedule must be maintained. In the process of the handoff, the stack of papers slipped. Three of them fell to the floor right beside Laddy’s desk.
Let the record show that in years past, pupils were eager to help. Eager to nab any fallen educational accouterments. Like a toy poodle on a dropped chocolate-covered peanut. Like Red-Bull-fortified ball boys at Wimbledon. Center Court. If Mrs. Hillbilly Mom so much as knocked a paperclip off her desk, four or five of her pupils were after it like Super Bowl players on a fumble.
More recently, pupils do not respond. Sure, I could ask somebody to pick it up. Please. And they would. But not spontaneously, for the joy of helping. You’d think they were all mini Ponies, not caring one whit about helping others. And even The Pony would pick up something for a teacher! Or any adult. These current pupils knock a pencil off their desk, and look to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom as she walks by, as if expecting HER to pick up the pencil for THEM!
Let the record further show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom HAS picked up items for pupils. But she prefers not to. First of all, she does not want to expose pupils seated nearby to a close-up view of her ample buttocks. Nor does she want to give a peep show down her shirt. Because unlike The Pony, Mrs. HM does not top-button the collar of her shirt like she’s trying to keep hazardous material out. And…Mrs. HM, a Rubenesque specimen, only clothed, is not particularly fond of bending over.
It’s not just the picking-up portion of common faculty/pupil etiquette that has gone the way of the dodo bird. It is customary, whence returning from an absence, for the pupil to get a slip from the office to present to each teacher for initialing. That way, we know if the absence was excused, and whether to give makeup work. It is customary for a student to bring that slip to the desk at the beginning of the class period, have it signed, and receive the work. Routine, you know. Nowadays, a student will wave that absentee slip like a NASCAR finish line flag as the teacher walks past on the way to her desk. Sometimes, I will stop and sign. But that means using the pupil’s pencil, no doubt laden with the prevalent virus at the time. The pupil is still expected to come to the desk for the work. But no. Only yesterday, a lass remained at her desk. I went to the back corner of the room to my control center, fished her paper out of the absent stack, and started all the way back to the opposite corner to deliver it.
“I’ll meet you halfway,” Lassie said. As if SHE was doing ME a favor!
Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s retirement looms on the horizon.
It’s the end of the school as we know it. And I feel fine.