The disruptability of wasps

Daniel Hamilton talks about the disruptive power of wasps and how he learnt to deal with them the hard way.

Daniel Hamilton, Maths Teacher, Glasgow City Council

I've got a lot to learn. Three times this week I had a class violently disrupted by a wasp. Or maybe wasps – I'm not sure if it was the same one. I didn't handle it well. Normally the kids are so well behaved, but not with a wasp in the room.

Incident number 1

The first time it happened I told the kids to ignore it and carry on working, but I guess I wasn't firm enough. People were screaming and getting out of their seats if the wasp came near them. It went on for about five minutes, with me an impotent voice of calm. In the end, I decided to take affirmative action. I opened all the windows and turned the lights off, thinking that it would make the wasp more likely to fly out if it was relatively dark in the classroom. I'd confused wasps with moths. Eventually I picked up a big wad of homework sheets, and the kids got excited that I was going to try and batter the wasp to death. Instead, I skilfully shepherded the intruder out through the window, which got a bit of a cheer. Then someone saw a second wasp sitting on the smoke alarm. It must have flow in when I opened all the windows. My heart sank.

Incident number 2

My next class was also interrupted. This time I was ready though, and it was actually me who saw the wasp first. In order to forestall any trouble, I immediately told all the kids to ignore the big wasp in the room. Of course, telling people to ignore something they aren't aware of doesn't make much sense, and my warning to ignore it had the opposite effect. They all started looking for the wasp, and then started shouting what it was doing: "It's coming towards me!” One girl, usually quite calm, got extremely nervous when it buzzed around her head and asked to move seat. I appealed to the kids' maturity, "We've all seen a wasp before, nothing to get excited about”, and they settled down a bit.

Third time lucky

The third lesson of the day, in another part of the school, also had a wasp invasion. This time I took an immediate heavy handed approach booming, "We're not going to have any nonsense about the wasp" before any nonsense had even begun. By now I was well aware of the potential disruptive danger of a wasp, and nipped the problem in the bud. The wasp, sensing it wasn't going to cause any chaos in this room, took the hint and flew out the window.

Read Daniel's other blog entries on In2Teaching: