Sunday, September 9, 2007

Maladjusted hamsters, face creams & rubber chickens

Call me crazy, but life needs just a tad bit more humor to it.

We spend much of our time scurrying like maladjusted hamsters in a cage–serious and intent on whatever task presents itself. I have the lines on my face to prove it, and trust me, no amount of Elizabeth Arden magic face cream at $150 a pop is ever going to fix that. Perhaps a trip to one of those fancy, schmancy nip and tuck doctors would do the trick, but hey, I’m a public school teacher, so that stands about as much of a chance of happening as stopping kids from gawking at a full-fledged brawl in the hall.

So enter the chicken. Yep, the yellow, rubber chicken.

Probably about eight years ago, I discovered (without the benefit of an educational grant or the Bill Gates foundation) that kids learn more if you humor them a bit. I wish I could say I conducted a scientific study, extrapolated this, surveyed a little bit of that, did the hokey, pokey and…

But I didn’t. (Ok, maybe the hokey, pokey once or twice, but we can always save that story for another day.) Instead, I was presenting something insightful–probably a lecture about photo composition–and needed to point at something on the screen. I grabbed the first thing handy which just happened to be a rubber chicken (a recent acquisition from a high school journalism workshop).

“No, she didn’t,” someone said from the back of the room.

I looked up. Smiles everywhere.

The next day the class remembered everything. It hit me then that throughout our lives we remember best those moments either wrapped around laughter and fun or those touched with sadness and pain.

Given the choice, shouldn’t we package those lessons–those "teachable moments" as we call them in educational jargon–in humor?

I vote humor.

***

In case you were wondering (and I know you were), in addition to being a rather excellent pointer, here are some other uses for a rubber chicken (all tried, true and tested by my students)…

•As a blinker…Ever travel with kids in rush hour traffic and no one will let the school’s humongous van into the next lane? Well, roll down that window and stick the rubber chicken out. Cars will part as if Moses himself was there. (Not sure if it’s because the other driver’s are laughing so hard, or they’re giving wide berth to that crazy driver.)

•As a scare tactic… Our rubber chicken also squawks. Give the chicken a squeeze to scare panhandlers and other undesirables away from the kids when you’re on school trips. Trust me, it works.

•As a clearance detector… If you’re spatially impaired and if driving through underground garages makes you wonder if that rental vehicle with the luggage rack will make the clearance without shaving off the top, well then, stick the rubber chicken out the sunroof or window. If the chicken whacks its head on the ceiling, you probably ought to turn around.

10 comments:

Kathi said...

Shadowhelm mentionned in our YDP list that school was providing its usual run of fun for you. Thanks for the laugh. A dear friend is a professional dance instructor (and a linguist, writing a book on the language and pattern of dance) whose last name is Fowler. You got it -- there is a chicken hat that his students fear and desire. Those who fail to hold their frame while doing a sideline pass may have a rubber chicken dropped on them at any time. The arm on the man breaks formation by bending like a drawn bow -- the "poultry position".

bababy said...

excellent "rubber ducky"article. Enjoyed it very much. Can't understand why Oprah doesn't take notice.

Kim said...

Okay, I see that I am way late to this party (story of my life), but I just had to add my "Amen" to the rubber chicken.

In my 5th grade class, I have a flying monkey that screams its way across the room from time to time, a flying Santa that makes its rounds during the holidays and various musical buttons that cause us to break into scary dancing when students master a hard task or share some earth-shattering insight. Heck, I even dismiss my students to "Na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye!".

The kids groan with glee. They are the only ones who didn't bat an eyelash when I showed up each day of the week before Christmas with a different set of reindeer antlers, elf hats or santa springs on my head, but you know they secretly relished it!

My favorite moment was a walkthrough by a WestEd consultant, my principal, our school curriculum director and a very, very well dressed assistant superintendent. You should have seen Mr. Hoity Toity pants dancing with us to "Whomp, there it is!" I gained a whole new respect for that man!

I figure if I have to be in school for all of my life, I'm gonna have me some fun!

Now I gotta get me some plastic poultry! Yes, Siree!

Ms. Bellringer, I do believe we are kindred spirits!

mybellringers said...

Kim,
I have to agree, we are kindred spirits. Good luck in your quest for the rubber chicken… Look for one that squawks–not all of them do, but mine does. Wouldn't have it any other way :-)

jennybateacher said...

I am also the proud owner of a rubber chicken, but I don't know why. I had a reason. I really did. I looked and looked for one for a few years and then, at a workshop, voila, a rubber chicken presented itself for purchase. Dang if I can't remember what I wanted it for in the first place. I've had it for a few years now and Beulah comes in handy at the most peculiar times, but I really can't come up with her original desiny. I also desperately needed a hard hat. I think it had to do with writing conferences and hard work. There was SOME totally adorable/catchy phrase to accompany this hat. Now I'm clueless. I'd blame it on age (50) but this all started a while ago. Thank goodness I teach 2nd graders and not HS. I can still believe that I can outsmart a 2nd grader (although there are times. . . )

LOVE your blog!

jennybateacher said...

I am also the proud owner of a rubber chicken, but I don't know why. I had a reason. I really did. I looked and looked for one for a few years and then, at a workshop, voila, a rubber chicken presented itself for purchase. Dang if I can't remember what I wanted it for in the first place. I've had it for a few years now and Beulah comes in handy at the most peculiar times, but I really can't come up with her original desiny. I also desperately needed a hard hat. I think it had to do with writing conferences and hard work. There was SOME totally adorable/catchy phrase to accompany this hat. Now I'm clueless. I'd blame it on age (50) but this all started a while ago. Thank goodness I teach 2nd graders and not HS. I can still believe that I can outsmart a 2nd grader (although there are times. . . )

LOVE your blog!

mybellringers said...

Jennybateacher,
Hmmmmmm a hard hat? I think I now need one of those for those times when a tiara just won't do.

Thanks for the comment and I'm so glad you enjoy my blog!

Angel (Crabtree) Rothrock said...

I can say that I remember the rubber chicken blinker coming in handy in Austin traffic more than once. :)

Anonymous said...

Picturing any teacher honking a rubber chicken at passersby is just too hilarious...

Thanks for making me laugh!

Jeff, History Teacher

atlanta teambuilding said...

Carol-

Thanks so much for your blog - really enjoyed this post especially, and agree that ha-ha's are the most fun and sure path to Ah-Ha's!