Updated: Mar 10
I was teaching a year 7 class. It was my first year teaching year 7s. I found them to be quite naïve and funny. It was around term 3 or 4. So I knew the individual kids very well at that point. I was trying to teach some Math stuff, explaining away while drawing on the whiteboard. I took that stuff seriously, and there were a lot of kids trying to learn. Anyway, Kevin and Josh weren’t feeling it that afternoon. They wanted to explore the internet. Hey, I get it. Sometimes you don’t want to learn Math - fair enough. But I was a teacher, and I couldn’t allow that. So when they burst out laughing and loudly interrupted everyone's attention, I had to do something. Every kid was looking at me like ‘are you going to do something about that?’ You see, kids have a very keen sense of unfairness. I wanted to let it slide because Kevin and Josh were usually pretty good. Kevin was a really tiny Asian kid, and Josh was very Italian looking, with dark curly hair. He was also smaller than average. Those two were good friends. They were sharp and witty. They were friendly and sometimes talked to me after class. They seemed to like me. I liked them. But, I couldn’t let it slide because I knew that it would invoke a deep sense of unfairness in the rest of the class.
So I walked over to Kevin. He had cleverly closed whatever application he had opened on his laptop. He looked calm, confident and comfortable. He seemed sure that he got away with whatever he did. I immediately opened google chrome on his laptop. I could see Kevin and Josh looking at each other. I knew what they were thinking; ‘out of all the shortcuts on that crowded desktop, how did he know to open the google chrome browser?’. Laptops were only introduced recently at that point so kids were still getting used to them. I knew they had to be laughing at something on the internet. It was obvious to me. At this point Kevin and Josh looked a little worried but still pretty sure I couldn’t find out what they were laughing at. The next thing I did blew them away. What I did won’t surprise you, but those 13 year old's thought I was some sort of mind reading wizard. I simply hit ‘Ctrl-h’. You probably know that as a keyboard shortcut to bring up the browsing history. They obviously didn’t know about it. Kevin, Josh and I saw what they had been doing 2 minutes ago. There was a google search for ‘pornhub’. Those two kids were shocked, embarrassed and devastated. You could see it all over their faces. I wanted to laugh so bad, but I knew that if I did, the class wouldn't respect me. I held it in and kept a straight face. Now I needed the rest of the class to see that there would be a consequence, so I told Kevin and Josh to stay after class, which was also after school since it was the last period. Now they had the rest of the class to wonder what I’d do next. I didn't know what to do yet.
While I was teaching the rest of the class, I started creating a plan. I didn’t have time to give these kids a detention. That would create extra work for me and then I’d have to remember to follow up and actually turn up to the detention. The detention would also be during my lunch time. Fuck that! I wanted it dealt with straight away. I knew I couldn’t keep a kid after school without parents' written permission. They might have a bus to catch or something. So I decided that the best course of action was to scare the shit out of them in 2 minutes. It would be fun and interesting.
When the bell rang I told them to follow me. Of course they asked where we were going, like I knew they would. I explained that they were going to their lockers to put their stuff away and get their bags. I wanted them to get their bags just in case they had a bus to catch, but they didn’t know that. I told them we were going to the principal's office. We were going to call both their parents in. We were all going to have a big discussion together about looking at porn. They went to their lockers and grabbed their bags. They kept asking me questions about the discussion. I kept fabricating answers that also intersected with the most embarrassing possible discussion anyone could imagine. I managed to communicate all of this in a very convincing way. I was right, this was fun and interesting. They took the bait, hook, line and sinker. They put their books away, got their bags and walked with me. I could see that Kevin was holding back tears. His eyes were glassy. I started to wonder if I was going too far. But Kev held it together. Phew. I was relieved he didn’t break down. I could see Josh was playing out the scenario in his little 13 year old head; Imagining talking to his parents and the principal about googling ‘pornhub’. That discussion would be the most awkward one any 13 year old could possibly have. Josh looked really freaked out and pale.
I walked them all the way to the principal's office. As we were getting closer it got more real. That must have been the longest walk in their 13 years of living. We got to the principal's office. No fucking way was I wasting her time with that petty shit - that would be insane. I really hoped we didn’t bump into her. I was probably more uncomfortable around her then they were. As soon as I got there I asked them if they were ever going to do something like that in class again. They were sincerely like "no way, I'm sorry". So I just said “okay cool, I was just messing with you about the whole principal and parents thing. As if I'd waste her time with this”. The relief on those kids' faces! They immediately broke into laughter and relief. I smiled and asked Kevin; “hey were you about to cry”. He said “No, Josh was about to cry, I knew it was a joke!” Josh didn’t like that and they started to argue about who actually believed me. I laughed at them and said “seriously don’t do that in class again, it’s annoying”. They promised not to and walked off home. I could hear them bagging each other for believing me as they walked off. I felt good about my performance.
Josh and Kevin kept their promise. They were good in class. I somehow managed to keep their respect. Actually it was as if they liked and respected me even more after that. They saw that I was a human. I had a sense of humour, there was more going on in my head than Math. The next year I bumped into them in the playground. Kevin was a lot bigger and Josh has some bass in his voice. We shared a laugh about that time back in year 7.