Apparently, I'm quite the idiot. Seriously: my IQ is published somewhere as being "zero." I didn't get the memo, but I'm allegedly known among the students for being quite a stupid person.
All week long, students in both the intermediate and high school grades have been sent to my office for all kinds of things. Theft. Cheating. Ditching class (while remaining on campus). Threatening other people. And in each case, after I review the details of each offense, I asked a simple question: "Did you think we weren't going to care, or did you not think you'd get caught?" Each of them replied that they didn't think they'd get caught.
Many of our teachers have been doing this job for as long as I've been attending school. I've been doing this job for about as long as the 10th graders have been alive. Six-plus years of college training in education, over a decade of experience (some of it here in silver-spoonland, some of it in the 'hood), and I'm the one who's going to be outsmarted by underage Paris-Hilton-lookalikes and goth-wannabes? I don't think so.
There are many subjects we don't teach in the curriculum proper. These things get learned in social situations and, at times, in my office. While I will always think of myself as a teacher, I know that I'm not on the front lines. But if you'll allow me the metaphor, I do teach. My office is my classroom. The student handbook is my text. My subject is "Behavior"--and some of these kids are majoring in it.
Although it's a blog for another time, I've a theory that students in my demographic--already teenagers who feel invincible, with affluent status added on--are in need of a HUGE humbling experience. These kids need to learn not only that they are fallible, but that there is a certain nobility in embracing that fallibility. Rarely do any of them admit to a moment of stupidity. For the most part, they spew desperate justifications or try to minimize the offense (lest we forget that every bully, every crminal, and every school shooter starts somewhere, so I must maintain Mad-Eye Moody's doctrine of "constant vigilance"). And many of them, sadly, wait outside my office feeling untouchable.
Roll the dice again, kiddo. Your Cloak of Invulnerability just ain't that strong.