I can't remember what the trigger was, but the other day I was reminded of a highschool history teacher of mine, who had a very peculiar tactic for managing anger at the class. (Coincidentally and tangentially, Izzlepfaff! has a humorous look at some gradeschool memories today)
So, this teacher was known to be one of the toughest, strictest and scariest history teachers in the school.
His classroom was the very last one, at the end of hallway, automatically giving him a few more scary points. The first day of his class, he would stand behind his podium (he was one of the few teachers who used a podium) and he would give an almost non-stop, rousing lecture, punctuated occsionally by the slamming of his heavy ring down on the wooden podium. This was incredibly effective at immediately waking you up if you ever even started to think about dozing off. Also, on the first day of class, he would explain the little toy truck that sits on his desk.
The little toy truck represented his patience. Whenever the class' misbehavior began to upset him, he would slowly walk over to his desk and push the truck forward a few inches. On the first day, he always warned, “don't ever let the truck reach the edge of the desk.”
One day, the class was working on quiet individual assignments and the teacher was at his desk. A couple kids were whispering when they shouldn't have and suddenly we all heard the teacher loudly clear his throat to get our attention. We looked toward his desk, where we saw him put two fingers on the truck and slowly move it forward a couple inches. Somebody giggled at this, which caused him to again move the truck forward. Just as he took his hand away, another giggle or whisper burst out. This time, after moving the truck again, he did not take his hand off, and just stared down at it. Again, someone had the nerve to whisper about what was going on and thus the vicious cycle had started. As people's giggling compounded, the teacher began moving the truck in a slow continuous path right up to the edge of the desk. When it reached the edge, a few people “ssshhh”-ed the noise down and the room was silent. The teacher pulled his finger back and with one last push, sent the truck off the edge of his desk. We all sat there in silence, and so did the teacher. But nothing happened. We sent the truck of patience over the edge and that was it. We sat for the remainder of the class period, in silence, and so did he.
We were the first class to do this? Did he not have a plan for when the truck actually made it off the edge? Maybe he knew the psychology of the truck/teacher/student dynamics would get us to all shut up once the truck fell. Maybe he was just a cool history teacher.