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 Pat Fule

Fule for Thought
 
It’s been 30 years since I first began teaching here in Strathmore. In that time, I have seen many teaching philosophies come and go, as well as technological advancements. I remember being called in to a conference to see a new electronic device hooked to the phone system that would send and receive messages in minutes. This seemed amazing to me, and I thought it would be a great way to communicate faster. Who knew that the fax machine could also become a danger in the workplace? One school day, one of my colleagues was learning to use this fax machine. It was kept in one of the rooms just off the Main Office. The office staff heard a scream of terror, and a lot of scuffling noises. The poor guy had gotten his tie caught in the machine, and it was pulling the tie and HIM into it! With quick thinking, one of the secretaries ran back for scissors, and snipped off his tie just under his collar! He was saved, and he avoided that fax machine for a LONG time!
Each school year, schools have their Parent-Teacher Interviews so that students and parents can discuss progress (or lack of) in the various subjects! Many years ago, at SHS, all teachers would be given a sheet with columns, so that we could write down the parents’ names and their child. This was to be a way to track the interviews. Now that was in theory, because sometimes Interview Night can be quite “dead,” especially in the Spring when the Flames are in the playoffs (I told you it was a long time ago!). Well, we hardly had any parents, and I got bored. This is a bad thing, because I thought it would be humorous to write down “bogus” names as a joke. So for example, I would write the last name “Hun”, check off Mr. and Mrs., then I’d add Atilla as the kid. I thought this was kind of witty, and kept adding: Mr. and Mrs. Presley, their son Elvis and so on! I thought I had peaked when I brought in my old Catholic past  I wrote “Mr.” then God, followed by his son, “Jesus.”  
Hilarious stuff, right? Well pretty soon, some of the other staff were adding their own funny parents/kids, and even started their own sheets! It wasn’t anything to do with a protest of any kind … we just thought it was funny. 
The next morning, I found a memo that read: “I’d like to see you about wasting taxpayers’ money on Interview Night.”  
First, I was mortified … then I got angry! I had caught up on my marking, there were virtually no parents TO do interviews with, and the closer I got to my first class break, the angrier I got! I rehearsed what I was going to say, I even told some of my colleagues, and marched toward an administrator’s office. I was going to have my “day in court!”
Just before I stormed in, a teacher pal stopped me, and said “whatever you do in there, let him speak first.” 
It was everything I could do to stay silent, as he began to talk, and I was still practicing my inner reply, when I heard him say it was all a joke, and that a few of my pals were in on it! So many emotions hit me: relief, embarrassment, shock, and I laughed out loud. 
“They” had gotten me, and I NEVER fooled around in Interviews again … in fact I found that sometimes when you’re trying to do your best, you can also screw up!
The night in question was actually a busy one, and I was dealing with a lot of interviews. Sometimes, with all the students a teacher has, you CAN get mixed up! I was doing great, and I was praising a boy to his father. It was awesome to see how he lit up; he was so happy and he even beamed with pride. After he left, I also felt very positive about it. Then, later in the evening, another dad came in. As I looked at his son’s marks, I realized I had read the AWESOME comments to the dad of one of my “problem” students. 
That kid had been disruptive in my class and others, and he rarely change for PE! It was no wonder his dad almost cried tears of joy … I might’ve been the only positive interview he had all night! I kicked myself for getting the two kids mixed up, but then I thought, “huh, maybe this will get him out of some trouble at home … maybe it’ll inspire him, maybe THIS will be that ONE moment, that helps him become a better student AND person!”  
It turns out it didn’t, but the kid probably had a good evening those many years ago, and his dad WAS pretty happy!
(“Fule for Thought” is a slice of life humourous column that appears in the Strathmore Times, written by long-time resident, town councillor, high school teacher, coach, husband and father of two – Pat Fule. If you would like to get in touch with Pat, you can send him an e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)