Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Billie Holiday and how she ruined the careers of three English teachers

The morning started off smooth enough. I was able to keep 50 students, ages 15 and 16, on a bus quiet all by myself, in addition to taking attendance and going over procedures for food and the play. The bus driver lectured me for being too nice to students. They were in no way confrontational or disrespectful so I don't know why he felt the need to instill his wisdom of student treatment.

Problem #1: I was the only chaperone familiar with St. Paul. Which meant the crotchety bus driver didn't want to take direction advice from the girl that looks like she could still be in high school herself and is clearly too nice to her students. I think I said "no, I think this is 6th street" three times in a five minute period (trust me, it was 6th St.). I also could not get him to understand that the streets in St. Paul do not, in fact, go north to south and east to west like Minneapolis, but rather they go in a circular pattern around the capitol. He then blamed me for the construction on St. Peter St. Yes, because I am the keeper of construction cones.

This also meant that when 100 students asked where restaurants were, all the chaperones would point to me. I think I gave directions to McDonalds 30 times today. Yum.

Problem #2: My students are fragile and sheltered compared to the chain smoking St. Paul Alternative Learning Center students. This will become evident once we reach Problem #3. During intermission, my students stood in shock (complete with hanging jaws) as about 15 students walked outside and started smoking. I think my well protected suburban students felt, at that point, like there was no way they could identify with these students any longer.

Problem #3: The play should have been rated R. The play itself, had I been student-less and not concerned for my job security, was incredible. It was a story about Billie Holiday and her life and music. However, the teacher packet the theater provided failed to mention that anytime she referred to a woman, she used "bitch." Always. It also failed to mention that it uses the ultimate in profanity: the forbidden F- and N-words (words that the ALC students continued to snicker, cheer and clap at throughout the entirety of the play).

But, it was in the last 10 minutes of the play when I realized two things: 1) my students are so obedient and well behaved, or worried about being suspended or killed by their teachers that they didn't laugh at the joke noted below, and 2) my humor will never go beyond that of middle school. We were at the point where she (Billie Holiday) discusses how her husband, a heroine addict, decided to put the drug in her suitcase as he thought the police wouldn't do anything since she was Billie Holiday. She then states, "He couldn't put it in his suitcase because he has a police report as long as his insert-name-related-to-Richard-here." I heard several of my students gasp. The ALC students cheered especially loud. Two minutes later the teacher in front of me finally processed what was said and turned around with the most bewildered look I've ever seen on someone so close to retirement. I gained control over my laughter a few times but continually lost it seconds later.

Our students were too shocked, or afraid, to talk about the play on the way home.

Cheers to destroying my students' delicate minds and my profession.


  1. haha... so i am pretty sure i laughed at almost everything in this post :].
    i am pretty sure, from the sound of it, that the play should have been rated R as well. And for those other students *drops jaw* i am so shocked. wel, for that bus driver to blame everything on you, *points finger at him* what a shame. Because yes, you are the cause of the construction on St. Peter Street and the keeper of the construction cones. haha.... wow. too bad casettas wasn't open for you guys to eat there.... *drools*. Well i am glad to hear that you had an exciting trip :D


  2. I say, keep up the good work! I could have used such a play when I was in high school.