Last November, I wrote a piece for GOOD magazine about how I let one of my students, Alfonso, tell magic lies to avoid the consequences of his tardiness. In it, I argued that while consequences need to be pre-determined and consistent, they ought to be flexible and creative, as well.

This past week, I encountered yet another creative solution to the problem of student tardiness. After class had begun and I had dimmed the lights to begin projecting our daily snippet of art history onto the board, I heard the door open a crack. Along with the rest of the class, I looked over to see a long, monkey-like arm reach in and up above the door to remove the clock that was hanging there. A few seconds later, the arm returned and replaced the clock, which now somehow miraculously showed that there were still three minutes remaining until class time.

The door shut, and after half a beat opened again to reveal Alfonso, who strode purposefully to his seat under the approving gaze of the entire class.

"All right," I said loudly, "That sort of behavior deserves a reward. Let's give this man another round of applause."

So we all clapped as Alfonso took his seat with a flourish.

I love this job.


  1. Oh man that is brilliant. You can't help but smile at something so simple yet so clever.

  2. Yeah, I know. One of the best parts about being a teacher is that I am constantly surrounded by people who are smarter than I am.


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