. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: You Have the Right to Remain Silent

Sunday, April 10, 2011

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

...but if you do, I'll presume you're guilty.

We teachers must be the police officers of our own little worlds. How many times has a "crime" been committed in the classroom or on the playground that we must investigate?

For me, like a billion times a day.

Ok. That might be a slightly inflated number.

I like to do the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine, however due to a lack of grown-ups in my room, (there's only one and it's me and I realize referring to me as a grown-up is sometimes stretching the truth) I must play both parts.

Here's generally how it works.

Child A comes to me sobbing HY-STER-I-CALLY and says something like:

Child A: Iwasontheplaygoundandsallygotallherfriendstomakefunofmyshoes.(snifflesniffle)

So I say: Whaaat?

So Child A says: Iwasontheplayfoundand SALLY gotallherfriendstomakefunofmyshoes!(snifflesniffle)

Me: Sally did what?

Child A: Made(sniffle)fun(sniffle)of(sniffle)myshoes.

Me: Sally made fun of your shoes?

Child A: NoooOOoo!(sniffle)

Me: Well, that's what I got outta what you said.

And that's when another child, eavesdropping from her seat and fluent in Sobbingese, translates: She SAID, Sally got ALL HER FRIENDS to make fun of her shoes.

Me: Oh.

And so the clock starts ticking on the 48 free seconds I have to solve this mystery.

We all know, if I call Sally over and ask if this incident occurred, she's going to lie to save her bacon. That is why I never do that.

I give her time to stew before I ask her to lie.

First, I interview witnesses. I take copious notes on what is said by all the witnesses, keep facts that are the same and throw out what is different, and am usually left with some semblence of the truth...

...if you're comfortable with a truth that is about as clear as mud.

In all honesty, I usually have NO idea what really happened.

Knowing the truth is not what matters. Having Sally THINK I know the truth is what matters.

When the interviews are done, I then take Sally aside and say: Sally. I've just been talking to some other students about an incident on the playground. After talking to the others, I now understand what happened (Yeh, right). You have been named as one of the participants (Which is the only fact I AM sure of). I'm just gathering facts here and would like your side of the story. I am counting on your honesty (therefore I am prepared to hear a lie).

And then Sally tells me a whole long explanation that is completely fabricated and is designed to make her look innocent. (Because to a kid, "Tell your side" means "Lie, Lie, LIE!" and she's had all this time to think it up.)

And I say: Sally, I already KNOW the truth (Ha!). Your story does not match the facts given to me by the others. I want you to be very sure that you've told me everything as it happened. Maybe you just got confused a bit?

So Sally jumps at that opportunity and says she MAY have been a little confused. She then tells me a story that implicates her juuuuuust a teensy bit but not fully.

And I say: Sally. I'm sure you're not fully being honest with me (I think). I want to help you with this (I want this over with), but I can't until you start telling the whole truth. Your facts just don't add up with what I KNOW is the truth (I think). Now, if you continue to be dishonest with me, I'll be forced to increase your consequences (even though I haven't the faintest idea what consequences to give for an incident I don't fully understand).

It is here that Sally realizes that she is indeed going to be getting some consequences, but the severity of which she might have some control over and she'd like to take advantage of that.

Sally: Ok! I DID IT! Igotallmyfriendstomakefunofhershoes(snifflesnifflesob).

I don't really know what she said, but it sounded a lot like what the other kid said so I take it as the truth.

I hand out some rough justice and move on with my day, satisfied that another wrong has been righted in my room...

...I think.


Jane said...

Oh my, you hit the nail on the head with that one. Hats off to you for even sticking with it. Sometimes the stories are so convoluted that it's impossible to get to the bottom of it...with 20 some others looking on and then a handful of those chiming in on what they think happened...oh yeah, all while still trying to teach! It's a wonder we get anything at all done some days!

Beverly said...

I laughed through this entire story! I have this same scene at least two dozen times a day in my first grade student teaching classroom. Everythin in first grade is a three act play, of course, isn't it?

Mister Teacher said...

It's times like these that I wish we could melodramatically throw on a pair of sunglasses, look meaningfully into a non-existant video camera, and say something wittily sublime, like, "Looks like she's gonna need a...
Time Out!"
As The Who launches into the primal scream signifying the beginning of one of their billboard top 20 hits.

Frederika said...

We get this in 6th grade all of the time. Over the years, I have learned to never ask the accused if they did it. And the accuser always forgets to tell you what they did first to bring about the incident that they are reporting.

BTW: 6th grade is a multi-act paly with many contributors and kibbitzers on the sidelines. DRAMA with a capital D.

Anonymous said...

This was hilarious!! I laughed so hard :) I teach a first/second split class and feel like I experience this on an hourly basis... next time it happens though, I'll think of this story and try not to laugh!

Mrs. Senechal said...

I can visualize myself in this same scenario. I also enjoy the children who want to chime in as I am working on the "interview process". It's great to have a reason to laugh about it - thanks!

TheOneTrueFollower said...

I cried with laughter at this!!! Awesome. I'm not your level of interrogator, but I must say ...I scribbled down some notes.