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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mrs Poinker and the Lolly Jar

Containing twenty-six exuberant, animated ten year olds in a smallish classroom every day whilst coercing them into the partaking of dreary desk work for five hours isn’t as easy as it sounds.

The kids don’t all magically decide that Mrs Poinker isn’t like Mum and they can’t whinge, squabble, answer back, throw tanties, draw on furniture and shove things up their noses anymore. We teachers are required to set boundaries, establish expectations and provide a safe environment while at the same time remain calm, caring and … calm.

Over the last nine years I’ve employed a failsafe technique in order to ensure a tranquil, pacifying milieu in my classroom.

Captain Silence and the Lolly Jar.

Each day I appoint a select member of the class to be ‘Captain Silence’. The Captain is nominated at several times during the day to coast around the classroom giving the ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ sign dependent on what the recipients are up to at the time. 

Turning around in their seat firing spitballs through an eviscerated ballpoint: thumbs down. 

Working diligently with no annoying humming or poking their neighbour with a thumb tack: thumbs up.

The authoritarian Captain then writes a specially elected student’s name on the board under a smiley face crudely drawn by their artistically inept teacher.

At the end of the day, every lucky candidate with their name lit up in distinguished neon on the whiteboard is rewarded with the holy grail of all peoples under five foot tall… a lolly from the lolly jar. 

Captain Silence also gets to dig his hand in, have a good scrape around for the biggest marshmallow and contribute his own personal breed of bacteria as a reward for his/her work during the day. 

I’ve established a meritocratic society based on sugar.

On occasion, the lofty rank of Captain Silence is abused. For example, sometimes if Captain Silence is a girl there will only be girl’s names up at the end of the day. 

Occasionally I will observe the names on the board are exclusively the names of Captain Silence’s shady amigos who probably didn't warrant accolades at any stage of the day.

But lately, another problem has raised its troubling head.

If Captain Silence is not as silent as his job description defines, then he is instantly demoted to civilian status and Mrs Poinker takes over the commanding position.

Poor little Darius has had three goes at Captain Silence so far this year and has failed to hold down the station past morning tea on any of his distinguished appointments.

“You’re standing on your chair and yelling out the window, Darius. This is the third time I’ve warned you Darius! You can’t be Captain Silence anymore!” I declare in exasperation as he gazes at me with big, brown guiltless eyes.

“Okay,” he replies, shrugging his shoulders. “But can I be Captain Silence tomorrow?”

“No, I’m sorry you can’t Darius.”

“Do I still get a lolly?”

“No, Darius. I’m sorry.”


“No Darius.”

"Pretty please? I'll be good!"

"No Darius. Go back to your seat."

Darius wanders back to desk and Mrs Poinker feels like the most evil, wicked witch in the world. 

Mrs Poinker slips Darius a lolly as he walks out of the room at the end of the day. 

This is why Mrs Poinker failed as a parent.