Throughout my years in the classroom I ran across some real characters. These were very intellectually bright and creative individuals with a sense of humor. They found ways to make me laugh - sometimes when I was trying to be serious. I just can’t keep a straight face when something is funny to me.
One group of students stands out in my memory because each of them had this natural comedic characteristic and together they were so much fun. These kids were juniors and seniors in my Jobs for Alabama’s Graduates program.
Each year our JAG program was assigned a theme by the national Jobs for America’s Graduates program directors. This particular year the theme was “JAG - A Group Effort.” We were to stress the importance of teamwork to success.
I had my class in the computer lab one day when a wasp decided to join us. I tried to ignore it, but you can imagine the reaction of my class. And the wasp just wouldn’t leave us alone. It kept buzzing around, getting closer to us all the time. We attempted driving it toward an open window by waving notebooks at it to no avail.
Finally, one of my students borrowed a flipflop from a classmate. He stood on a computer table and swatted the wasp. Fortunately he was tall enough to manage to smash the pest between the shoe and the ceiling. We finished our research and headed back to class.
I was the last one back in the classroom. I remained in the computer lab until all the students had gathered their materials and exited in order to lock the lab. I noticed a group of students working on something which I assumed was part of the group report they had been assigned. I did think that they were having an awfully good time working on their project, which was a little suspicious.
I continued to be suspicious when I noticed that tape and magic markers had appeared in their work area. I couldn’t imagine what they were making, but I knew these were creative kids and I looked forward to seeing what they had come up with to go along with their report.
I was presented with a “trophy”. These characters had taken the year’s theme and run with it. The result, although funny, actually illustrated the goal of the theme.
Mounted on a piece of paper, behind a covering of Scotch tape was our late friend, the wasp. The theme was prominently displayed in fancy writing across the top of the page. And every class member who had participated was listed, along with their part in their creation. They included categories such as tape dispenser operator, artist and lettering expert, hit man, and weapon provider.
I loved that trophy and the thought that went into it. These students had managed to convey through humor the exact lesson I wanted to teach. They demonstrated the combination of individual effort and teamwork. And I had a good laugh.