Because the teaching anecdotes in the comments to the Left Behind post below deserve their own thread, a story.
I landed an internship after college graduation, but it didn't start until August. So I spent May and June substitute teaching in the middle school of my alma mater. My mother, a 40-year veteran of the trenches of second grade, gave me a piece of wise advice. She told me what she always told new, young teachers: Don't smile until Christmas.
But I didn't want to be like that. I wanted to be, you know, their cool older-brother buddy figure. With sixth-graders.
They ate me alive.
The lesson plans had them reading Kipling's "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" — going around the room, taking turns paragraph by paragraph. That sounds easy until you realize that if there are 20 sixth-graders in a room, and only one of them is reading aloud, then the other 19 are doing something else — something potentially loud, disruptive or even destructive of property.
Finally, in a move of desperation, I wrote the most disruptive student's name on the chalkboard. I had no idea what this meant, really, but it produced audible gasps from some of his classmates. "If you interrupt our lesson again," I told him, "I'm putting a check by your name."
Again, I had no idea what that meant, but it seemed to buy me some time.
At the end of the class period, I ran down to the middle school principal's office and told Mr. Baehr about my check-by-your-name gambit, confessing that it was a hollow threat. "A second check," he said, "means they come to see me."
That was a big help.
"There's an old saying for new teachers," Mr. Baehr said to me. "'Don't smile until Christmas.' Do you understand what that means?"
Yes, I said. Yes I do.