The best laid plans of instructors and insects

Published 11:46 am Friday, September 2, 2011

By JASON MAYFIELD / Guest Columnist

I walked in from my newsroom sponsor position to greet my sixth grade students on the second day of school. We were both in the “feeling each other out” and “making rookie mistakes” mode, they forgetting to realize that you stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and me forgetting to remind my broadcasters that it’s “Please stand for the Pledge of Allegiance” and not “Please stand for a moment of silence.”

We settled down after the show to the day’s events. Originally, I planned to introduce them to the course, allow them some time to write about their favorite reading spots, take them to the library and get them started on a picture book that summarizes what they read for summer reading.

Instead, my plans were interrupted by a wasp.

I’ve had students, teachers, intercoms, maintenance workers, garden hoses and power outages rob attention from my lessons through the years. I typically ignore the problem and then chastise the first wary eye I catch that’s following someone/something else by giving a quick lesson on the importance of a laser-like focus when you’re completing an important task – a.k.a., listening to your wonderful teacher.

When I saw the wasp, I ignored it. The plan worked for 10 minutes until the wasp planted itself in my hair. In my attempt to knock the thing down and deliver the “stomp of death,” I inadvertently deflected the insect toward quite possibly the most wasp-scared student in the history of education. After several 360 degree turns, the wasp spun away from the student and resumed its previous attempt to destroy the window of my classroom with its head (or at least, that’s how it looked).

The best educators are those that find “teachable moments.” Me? I signaled a retreat and had the students evacuate to the library, leaving behind one brave soul as the designated wasp assassin. Naturally, he slew the buzzing beast before I could even get the first student out the door.

I believe I can already see signs that the traumatic event has brought the students together as one — although, I am spraying daily for wasps. Just in case.