Monday, April 25, 2011


I was a different kind of teacher.  I firmly believed (and still am) that a teacher has to retain their sense of humor when working with pre teens and teens.  In fact, I have found that humor can enhance any situation as well as defuse some (that is unless you are being chewed out by your boss....been there done that).  

The story I am relating occurred sometime during the early 90s.
I was teaching high school level learning disabled and behavior disordered youth.  I had a lot of gimmicks I used to teach them academics as well as social skills such as humor (it is surprising, but a lot of these kids did not get the idea of humor or when humor was appropriate).  At the same time I used these activities to get them to bond with me.

One of these activities was called, “The Muppet Caper.”  This was for Civics or Government class and we went through each procedure of catching and prosecuting a criminal.

After the lessons were taught and the rules (and necessary characters) were explained I set out 3 small stuffed Muppets:  Kermit, Fozzy Bear, and Animal.

First someone had to kidnap and hide one of the Muppets.  Then a witness had to come forward to report the kidnapping to the police.  The policeman had to arrest the criminal and then we had a trial. This first part took about a week.  Then came the trial (my favorite part).  I usually got permission for all of my classes to participate in the trial.

The first time I did this Kermit was snatched.  I had one of the counselors play the part of the judge.  I picked a guy I knew would go with the flow and even add to the humor of the situation.  After briefing him, he would start the trial.  One student was the defense attorney and one the prosecutor (most of the students of the Civics class had a part).  The student parts were scripted and I had 2 aides who kept the momentum going.  Then at a crucial point a surprise witness would be called.  I was that surprise witness.  In I marched dressed in green leotards, green shorts, green shirt, green gloves (with webs sewn in) green painted face, green skull cap, and flippers!  I had also stuffed a pillow down my shorts and up my shirt. 

I slepped over to the witness chair and proceeded to give my testimony even though the entire classroom was breaking up (including the counselor/judge).  I wined and cried over the loss of my son, Kermy.  While giving testimony I popped candy that looked like bugs into my mouth.  I even hopped up onto the judge’s table and pretended to catch a fly.

Needless to say this was a big hit.  The Kidnapper confessed and returned Kermy.

The next year when I did this I guess the kids passed on the information to the students in the next term as they kidnapped Animal.  I had a hard time coming up with this costume but suffice it to say it involved cutting curly hair from my black poodle.

Along with a made up face was a clown nose, halloween teeth and curly black hair  glued to my face (in the form a uni-brow).  This DID bring down the house when I ran wildly in the classroom, but, it was when I raised my arm to ask a question that everyone lost it.  I had glued a swatch of hair under each armpit (a little uncomfortable but worth it for the reaction I got).  The same counselor was the judge and his relating of my hijinks to the faculty cause me to be voted the most likely teacher to be put away in a mental institution.

However, the following term the powers that be determined that Civics would be absorbed by the government class and my students would be mainstreamed into regular education for government.  Oh, well!  I had fun while it lasted…. and so did my students.

I have only one regret....I didn't take pictures!
kt 3/2011


  1. I wish I'd had the privilege of being taught by you, Karen! What an asset you must have been to the schools at which you taught. I bet those kids still fondly tell their grandchildren how much fun they had with you :)

  2. So we must be related! I do this nonsense all the time when I'm trying to get a laugh or teach a lesson. However I must say I have never glued hair under my arms. Thinking about playing a joke om my hubby though. Wonder how he would react if I lifted my arm and had pit hair londer than my head hair! Thank you for commenting on my blog. I look forward to hearing from you every time. I get a good giggle more often than not!

  3. So glad I know you now. If you would have been my teacher then maybe I wouldn't have met you.
    Wait a minute...Buena Park? Did you ever teach at McComber Junior High?

  4. Thanks for your kind words on my post. You made me smile on a hard day. My brother is an amazing man. He actually has 5 kids but his older two are living with their mother right now. I loved the movie Passion of the Christ. I think it was very poignant and drew a picture even though it was, as you said much worse. I'm with you.

  5. Sounds like a lot of fun. The kids will never forget that court.

  6. I so wish you had taken a picture! Love the muppets! I remember when I was little, I would take my bath and then watch the muppets in my pj's. It was such a treat, but I am sure nothing compared to the treat of seeing a teacher hop on a desk!!

  7. You were my kind of teacher...I think one of the most important aspects of teaching is building relationships and when kids know you're invested in them; the total kid, that's important!
    Are you feeling better this evening? I read your comment on my blog regarding my poem and I do pray you are in a better frame of mind!

  8. I wish more teachers were like you. I would have loved to have seen pictures! Not sure which is funnier, you (all dressed in green) trying to catch a fly, or the armpit hair!! I'll bet those kids never forgot that!