This story is true. It happened to a real teacher that I know. It happened a few years ago, so the students in said story are now probably all of legal drinking age, or at least close to it. If they remember the story at all, hopefully, they laugh at its inappropriate waggishness.
Teacher X and Teacher Y team taught a cross-curricular history/English class for high school seniors. Within the parameters of said class, the students also received a credit for service learning. The class was blocked three days a week for three hours at a time. The teachers and the students became very familiar with each other– often cracking jokes, discussing the latest reality TV scandal, and learning about each others’ lives and extracurriculars. The class was like being a part of a family; Teacher X and Teacher Y loved their students.
One morning, the students were discussing a service project they were working to accomplish. The students were putting together a Senior Prom for the senior citizens of the community. They wanted the dance to be perfect, so they decided they needed to solicit door prizes to be give away to the people who came. The students were discussing how difficult it was to actually attain door prizes. You have to remember, these were the years fo Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac. No one felt safe spending money, and businesses were feeling the economic crunch of a recession.
One young lady in particular was lamenting about what a difficult time she was having procuring anything at all. “I stopped in the store, and they told me the manager was not in. They told me to call the manager later that evening,” she said.
Teacher X and Teacher Y and all of the students in the class listened.
“Did you call the manager?” Teacher Y asked.
“Yes, I did. I explained our program and instructed him to read the literature I had left for him. After about a four-minute spiel about what we are planning, I paused and asked if he had any questions,” she continued.
“Well did he?” Teacher Y asked.
“I don’t know, no one was on the other end of the line,” she said.
Teacher X and Teacher Y exchanged looks of disbelief.
“Do you think he hung up on you?” Teacher X asked.
“I don’t know. I was a little suspicious, but I wanted to give the manager the benefit of the doubt, so I called back.”
“What happened?” asked Teacher X. Teacher X could tell the students were eager to hear the story. (By-products of the Reality TV, MTV, Jersey Shore lovin’ generation– they couldn’t wait to hear the drama.)
“I called back. The manager answered. He apologized that we were disconnected, and politely said he had to put me on hold. About five minutes later, I realized he had actually hung up,” she said.
“That’s awful,” Teacher Y said.
“I felt horrible. I left the official letter explaining the program. He could have called the contact number and talked to either of you. He acted like I was prank calling.” It was obvious to everyone that she was visibly upset by his rude behavior.
Teacher X decided to try to lighten her mood. She had done nothing wrong, and Teacher X wanted the student to know that sometimes people exhibit bad behavior. Teacher X decided to crack a joke.
“Well,” Teacher X said. “You should have called back and actually pranked him. You should have told him you needed his name and that the website said it was Mike Hunt.”
Teacher Y gasped and shuffled uncomfortably in the chair.
Teacher X burst into laughter, but Teacher X realized not many of the students were laughing. Teacher X did not think they understood the joke. Teacher X turned to a particularly good-natured young man in the front row and said, “Do you get it? Say it fast and think about it. Mike Hunt.”
The student snickered and squirmed uncomfortably. “I get it,” he said.
Seeing his reaction and the reactions of others, Teacher X had an epiphany. These students were not colleagues. They were not peers. These students were high school seniors who cracked lewd jokes with their friends, but they never expected such a comment to pop out of Teacher X’s mouth. They were shocked.
Teacher X felt humiliation and shame. Teacher X blushed and apologized, but the damage was done. The students from that point on knew Teacher X was not the cerebral cucumber that X was painted to be– they saw X as a person, a regular-stick-your-foot-in-your-mouth person.
No aftermath. Teacher X taught and the students learned. The students, however, did see Teacher X as a flawed human, a person just like any other that sometimes makes a mistake.