Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hall Cams are Extra Eyes for Teacher

Anyone who has at least hit middle age can surely remember how difficult it was to get away with anything in their school classroom. Regardless what grade you were in, there were always those teachers who seemed to have the proverbial eyes in the back of their heads.

I remember way back then we had study hall. When I went to Edinburgh High, one of my study hall classes was in the old gym, as we called it, with Mr. Wilson (no relation) as the mighty proctor.

There were at least 50 students in study hall most every period, and you could hear a pin drop. There we all sat in desks lined up on the floor of that old gymnasium with Mr. Wilson who, we all thought, must have been about 75 years old sitting stoically at the head of the class. No one dared make a noise.

Certainly, there were those few teachers who hadn’t quite grown their rear-seeing eyes yet. Those who were apt to do it could get away with a lot. Mostly, what they got away with was talking too much.

I can only remember one time, when I was in eighth grade, when a student talked back to the teacher with such ferocity that I thought it was going to come to blows. I couldn’t believe it. I had never seen a student act so disrespectful to a teacher before.

These days, at some schools, that kind of behavior is downright commonplace. And it happens occasionally even at the better schools.

Even the students who don’t seem to be able to learn how to add two plus two are fully knowledgeable about their rights and about what the teacher can and cannot do to them.

I’ve been a teacher for a number of years, with some time off to pursue other endeavors, and I’m still envious of those teachers who seem to know exactly what’s going on in every corner of their classroom at every minute. I get anxious every time I have to turn my back to write something on the board. Spitballs can sting.

Hallways are especially a problem, because all the classes are out in them at once during passing periods.

The school where I teach already has security cameras in almost every hallway. If I catch a student misbehaving in the hall, I just have to go down to the school police office and tell them to pull up the video for such-and-such camera at a particular time. Even if I don’t know the offending student’s name, he or she is nailed by surveillance.

The price on small security cameras has now come down to the point where most people can own one if they wanted. I’ve had one watching my front porch for years.

And I, as a teacher, am glad to know that some of those small cameras are helping us monitor the hallways.

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