Number one for English language teachers

Anecdote: Cake

Type: Anecdote

An anecdote about why you should never eat cake in class.

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It was my first full-time job as a teacher in a Catholic High School in Riverside, California. I had just come back from a visit to Madrid, Spain, where I was born, and I was enthusiastic about teaching my language.

Sister Brigit, my Department Chair, told me that I would have to teach a class in English, called 'Introduction to writing', which was a freshman course. That was fine with me. I felt very confident. I was organized; books on the shelves, lesson plan on the board, waiting for class lists and students. My English class was first period.

Here they came! Freshmen? These kids looked very tall and mature to be Freshmen! I still didn't have a class list of names, so I started by talking with them, asking questions. No, they were not Freshmen, they were seniors and the class was not 'Introduction to Writing'. It was 'Techniques of Research'. Oh well, I was writing my doctoral dissertation, so that didn't scare me. I just told them how to do research. They took notes and everything was fine, until I noticed a tall boy was eating a piece of cake from a napkin. Rule  Number 1, clearly written on the board was 'NO FOOD OR DRINK IN CLASS'. I got a little mad and I asked him to read the rule out loud. He did and he got mad too!

I asked him:

'Did you understand what you read?', which made him even madder.

'Yes, I did.'

'Well then, what are you doing?'

We were both getting madder and madder.

'I am eating a piece of cake.' He took a bite and looked at me.

'Well, get up, go outside and throw the cake away.'

And then both of us made a mistake. He said:

'Here - I don't even want it,' and handed it to me.

I extended my hand - and he put the piece of cake, frosting down, on my hand. The frosting went between my fingers making a real mess. He was very tall - but he was sitting down and I was standing next to him, mad and with a quick temper. I smashed the cake on his hair!

The class started laughing and clapping. Somebody got up, went to the board and wrote:Teacher -1 ; Mark - 0. I didn't know if I was supposed to laugh or what, but I couldn't help it - I laughed out just like them. And then, Mark got up and left.

The story was all over the school by next period. At lunch I had a note in my box calling me to the Principal's office.

'There goes my first job!' I thought.

Father Mendonza looked at me and started to laugh! Oh, what a relief!

'Well, I hear that you won the cake competition against the seniors.'

I didn't know what to say, but I think I said something like,

'I am sorry, it's just that Mark was sitting down - if he had been standing I couldn't have done it, he's six feet tall and I am 5' 5"!'

When I came out of the Principal's office, some student approached me:

'I heard that horrible things happen if somebody tries to eat cake in your class!'

Oh, how embarrassing!

It was one of the best classes I have had in my thirty years of teaching.

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