Dancing with Little H. in high school

I heard "Enola Gay" by OMD on the radio this evening and I saw us dancing again under the blossoming fruit trees with the radio plugged in through the open window. It was a silly line dance with Little H enthusiastically in front which got brutally interrupted by the  principal's secretary who burst in to check where the noise and giggling came from.

"Oh  I thought you were here unsuperviced"
"No no, we're just dancing"  Little H. replied.


My sister had already shared Little H.'s reputation to me the year before I entered her class for the first time.
"Oh I bet you'll get Little H. next year. Hahaha, that's going to be something. Let me know if she has changed in any way.''
She flashed a big smile at the memory.

"oh boy literally anything could happen in her class and she never took action. One time someone had hidden herself on the shelves in the cabinet and started opening the cabinet doors in the middle of the lesson waving to us. Absolutely hilarious, we couldn't stop laughing.  Another time we had wrapped ourselves up in the big curtains and she allowed us to stay like that all hour. She has no authority whatsoever. Once some kids from a science class dropped in, claimed that they preferred getting an introduction to Greek and she was that happy to have such interested students in the room for a change so she started giving them a private lesson into the Greek alphabet instead of sending them back to the class where they were supposed to be.''

Little H. had not changed yet. She was still her sweet timide and a bit old-fashioned self, ...the only teacher who didn't simply walk by that afternoon that I had somehow not tied up my elastic binder well on my bike only to get it in an impossible knot tangled up in my bike chain. She immediately kneeled down wrecking her nylons to help me pulling and cursing until we finally cut the binder into pieces with a scissor she had fetched from the teacher's room after which we both went to wash our greased hands in the teachers's washroom with the better soap.

But the chaos in her class had not decreased over the years.  We quickly experienced that even the loudest set of talking during her class only resulted in a weak hush. Soon her hours were filled with stories about the latest boys bands, weekend adventures and last minute homework for the next hour.. anything really except for the topic she was teaching in front.  Only the victim's name she pulled from a little box, was faking an attempt to translate that Latin text after which she helplessly stared at Little H. until Little H. finished the translation for her.   At about each 10 minutes someone asked with the biggest smile "oh sorry Mrs H., I just missed that part, could you repeat that once, please" . After such a question we were all abruptly silent.  "From which part did you miss? "  " euh, about the last 5-10 minutes.  "  "Oh but you know you are not supposed to write down the translation in class...that's rehearsing homework for tonight"  "Yes yes, of course, I'm just writing down a brief comment"  .... after which Little H.  started reading our the entire translation of the last 10 minutes which we all wrote down consciously.   We got our punishment of not studying at all at the brutally difficult exams.  And the year after when we had to catch up all the knowledge with a different teacher.

Very often some other teacher opened the door to check whether we were having some unsupervised party, only to withdraw quickly again when the saw that Little H. was in front of our class.  After the bell rang, they were waiting for us to lecture us on disturbing their class 2-3 rooms further by our incredible noise.  But they couldn't do much without taking over Little H.'s class which clearly none of them dared to do.

One day we were playing a game in our old narrow room which had windows on either side giving either sight on the elementary school playground or the secondary school playground.  We had saved up all our failing pens and were trying to throw them each at our turn through the open windows.  All of a sudden someone launched her pen through the air and the projectile took its flight forward further and further from the windows over the first rows....right on Little H's forehead.  Tock...
We all froze for a moment  until she bended to the ground, picked up the pen and said "oh I think someone dropped her pen".

Afterwards we had a heated debate.  We had gone too far according to some. Surely she suffered from our rebelliousness even though she didn't seem to be.  Even though she did never punish us for anything, we still had to keep some respect.    Others claimed that this was the only class where anarchy could rule, so why would we self-discipline ourselves?? We had to profit from this rare opportunity since we'd never get away with such behaviour in any other class.
The next lesson we were angels, attentive, interested and silent.   She was visibly nervous, turning her wedding ring over and over and mumbling "oh it's quiet in here , huh? "   We were all nervous as well from a guilty conscious, trying to do our best so much and hoping we'd all keep it up as we had agreed.  When a wind gust from an upcoming thunderstorm unexpectedly blew the window open, we were so surprised that we screamed out loud.  AAAAAAAAAaaaah. The tension & our effort was gone and then things felt normal again....noisy but with a little bit of respect nevertheless.


I heard "Enola Gay" by OMD on the radio this evening and I saw us dancing again under the blossoming fruit trees with the radio plugged in through the open window.  It was our monthly lunch meeting with our class preceded by Little H. as our home room teacher.  The weather was beautiful and we had decided to move outside to the garden nearby the classrooms behind the principle's office and the administrative offices.  Usually nobody was supposed to be hanging out there during lunch but Little H. had agreed to enjoy the sun under the blossoms.  Someone had brought the radio along and was showing some easy dance steps that fitted the rhythm.  It was a silly line dance with Little H enthusiastically in front which got brutally interrupted by the principal's secretary who burst in to check where the noise and giggling came from.

"Oh  I thought you were here unsupervised"
"No no, we're just dancing"  Little H. replied.


I heard Enola Gay again and wondered how Little H. is doing now that she's been retired for a while. Would she be missing her students??


Brian Miller said…
nice story...and what a sweet one as well...she sounds like a wonderful teacher....
Gudrun said…
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jokemijn said…
"oh I think someone dropped her pen" ... geweldig. Het lijkt wel alsof ze jullie onoplettendheid nodig had om zich comfortabel te voelen.
Goofball said…
@Brian: I really believe she had a golden heart and was a very gentle person.
But she was a terrible teacher truly not cut-out to be in front of a classroom. During 3 decades she's been confronted with the biggest anarchy in her classes possible.

It was a mystery how she coped.
Did she truly didn't notice, thinking that this was a "normal" situation? Did she care? Was she aware that we got punished for our behaviour by other teachers behind her back? Was she really ok for it or did she shield herself off her inability to manage the slightest level of authority.

@jokeijn: exact! Het was aandoenlijk om haar in dat ene uur dat we ooit eens stil en oplettend geweest waren om haar te plezieren zo ongemakkelijk te zien worden. Ze wist echt niet wat er gaande was. Chaos was de norm in haar klassen, dat was vast de enige realiteit die ze kende.
Anonymous said…
hey, ik zie haar nog haarscherp in mijn herinneringen staan, maar haar naam ontsnapt me nu totaal...
en mijn leerlingen maar denken dat wij schatjes van patatjes waren!grtjs, Leen
zusjesenzo said…
Ocharme little H! Wij hebben ook zo'n leerkracht bij ons op school en we vragen ons ook regelmatig af hoe ze dat in godsnaam volhoudt. Ik denk dat ik al lang ander werk gezocht zou hebben, desnoods aan de kassa van de GB!

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