From the little podium where I stood to deliver my lessons, he stood in his pair of dungarees and work boots. He was a smallish kind of guy, not exactly what you would describe as muscular, however he was super duper fit for his age and contemporaries.
Saeed had an interesting way of dressing. He wore his pair of dungarees and then rolled the trousers, lengths up, showing his pair of boots and hairy legs.
The sleeves of his shirt were always folded revealing his toned arms. His hair was always well combed and well packed. He was always feeling funky with himself.
He somersaulted from the podium all the way down to the end of the room and tumbled back to the podium. It was such a spectacle to behold. I was bewildered. The rest of the class didn’t seem that bothered about the sight. It seemed like something they were used to seeing.
I went over to him, not realizing that he was on a little recess, he started tumbling again. What great skills I thought he had. Couldn’t he be a gymnast? Couldn’t he be an athlete? Why would such talents be allowed to waste away?
I invited him outside for a brief chat.
“You know you have some real great skills there son” I said.
“What skills?” he asked.
“Great athletic skills, gymnastic skills” I continued
“Thank you teacher.”
“So, what do you do in your spare time?”
“I dance and I swim”
“Wow, that’s awesome”
“Thank you teacher”
“But you know what? This is a classroom and in a classroom, we don’t do things like that.”
“Because it is a learning environment and it is a place where we learn. You can do what you were doing in the playground or after the lesson outside the learning environment.”
“Please keep calm in the classroom.”
We both got back inside the classroom and Saeed went to his seat.
Five minutes later he stood up and started poking and jumping on people’s back from one desk to the other, until he hit everybody in the room. A few people fobbed him off, another guy got off his seat and jumped at him and punched the hell out of him. A fight broke out. It seemed like just what the boys needed. Some excitement! Some students intervened and tried to separate them while the sideliners were analyzing the fist-throwing sessions.
I stepped out of the classroom and bellowed on the dean of discipline. The students called on the dean of discipline as well. The dean arrived and the fighting students got extracted out of the classroom and normalcy seemed to return.
Zayed was wearing a green crested t-shirt, the neck region of the t shirt was a little loose, the abs region was tight and looked like a spare tyre. When he ran, the tyre bobbed up and down like a tube in an ocean with waves. The brown pair of trousers he was wearing was very baggy and almost saggy. His work boots were almost oversized and when he walked, it seemed as if the shoes were going to slip off his feet. He had a bit of a wild beard. Even though the beards were unshaven, they were not exactly even. His hair seemed unkempt and his breath stank of stale tobacco. He was suffering from what I refer to as Itchypoke. This is a condition where you constantly poke people and irritate people. He could not keep his hands and feet to himself. It was like it was always itching him to poke somebody and this created such a huge distraction to himself and the rest of the fellas in the class.
The first time he came to my lesson, he took the ruler and kept hitting people all over the place. People could not ignore him as they used to do to the other Saeed. He was constantly in one form of misdeamour or the other.
“Zayed”, I called him, “what you are holding is called a ruler. It is used to draw a line or margin. It is not a toy. You do not use it to hit people.”
“Oh sorry teacher. Me don’t know.”
It took him about 10 minutes to write down the date and fifteen minutes to write down the numbers 1 to 15. I didn’t mind people chatting here and there during lesson, as long as they were up to speed with what they were supposed to do. SaaedZ, was always behind his work, yet he would not calm down to allow himself some chance to succeed.
It was during an inspection visit and Saeed kept saying he wanted to go to the toilet. As a matter of school rule, students were not allowed to leave the classroom to the toilet. He kept insisting he wanted to go to the toilet and I wouldn’t let him because I knew that would be chaos. Instead of going to the toilet, he would wander into other people’s classrooms and cause mayhem. A pretty bad situation could be worsened by his appearing on the scene and a calm situation could be set off into alarm by his presence. He thought that he was funny and since he made people laugh, he was the unofficial class clown.
I stood by the door and would not let him out. He raised hell and I called for help. Two deans appeared on the scene and they could not contain him, the class was in an uproar. I called the deputy head teacher of this school.
“Hello Mr. Mkpatim”
“Hello Mr. Ndia”
“How can I help?”
“There is fire on the mountain. I cannot teach right now, you have to appear on the scene.”
“But I am with the visitors, have you called the deans?”
“Yes, I have but they cannot contain the situation”
“I will be there shortly.”
Two minutes later Mr. Ndia was in my classroom with all the social workers in their regalia. After a brief scuttle and scuffle, Zayed was extracted from the classroom and some semblance of normalcy returned.
All along I was wishing that the visitors would appear on the scene to capture this moment live and offer some useful advice on how to move such situations forward.
Zayed is sitting on his desk working and that urge came to him to tumble, but instead of him tumbling, he stood up and danced. After dancing for some two minutes, he sat down and continued with his work. This dance break really helped him and me and of course the rest of the class. What it introduced was however splendid, as the students requested to finish their work early so they could have a dance session which worked to my advantage as it gave me the opportunity to break dance and learn some new dance steps from the students.
Standing on the doorway and greeting and shaking hands with the students, Zayed came face to face with me. I shook hands with him, made an eye contact and we spoke for a while. I told him that it’s Thursday and I would like us to end the week nicely. I said the week has been a rough one for him and me but let’s end it nicely and build up for the upcoming week. He agreed with me and promised me that today would be a good day.
He came in and sat down and after about two minutes he fell asleep. He slept for the entire duration of the lesson and when the lesson was over and all the students had gone, he woke up and told me he wanted to work. I advised him to just go home and relax till the following week when we would meet again, because that was the last period of the day. I told him “next week, we will start on a fresh page and he can do his work.” He insisted that he wanted to complete his work before going home for the weekend. No amount of persuasion would make him go away.
“I need to go for a meeting” I announced to him.
“That’s fine Mr. Ndia” I will stay and finish my work.
“But you need to go. Otherwise you will miss your bus”.
“No teacher, me I come to school with my Lexus, so, no problem. I have to finish my work”.
“Me I have meeting and I cannot leave you alone unattended.”
“No problem teacher. I will finish my work and then go home, no problem teacher”.
I set him the task and went off.
One hour later I came back hoping to meet his paper on my desk, only to find him snoring right where I left him.