Farewell Tour: An Appendix of Reflections


(feel free, Overeem survivors, to add your own in the comments–I may have forgotten a few!)

1) First question asked by a student ever: “Mr. Overeem, what is a maidenhead?”

2) First check received: stolen out of my mailbox by one of my students and fortunately left intact when the student tried to cash it at a convenience store.
3) Screening of film of To Kill a Mockingbird to third class in a row, last day of Homecoming Week, 1988, while sponsoring student council: fell asleep in class and forgot to excuse kids to go to lunch. (85 hours at school in five days that week.)
4) Homecoming debrief, 1989: leaning back on my chair against my classroom chalkboard as we evaluated our performance, I flipped backwards and knocked myself unconscious. Woke up in nurse’s office. Thank you, whichever students carried me down there.
5) First live concert staged in one of my classrooms: F-Bombs, 2006, was it?
6) Most unexpected unexpected guest to my classroom: TechBackwardNine’s tour manager.
7) Tightest spot: showing High Plains Drifter to a class to illustrate the weirder influences of Shane, which we had just finished reading, I was surprised to note the entrance of the North Central Evaluation committee–right at the outset of the rape scene I had forgotten was in the movie. (I began yammering about Shane connections, backed myself to the VCR, and behind my back felt around successfully for the FF button….)
8) Wardrobe malfunction: John Steitz invaded my classroom, chased me around it, and I ducked under a table, where an exposed screw ripped my (Paisley????) shirt straight down the back. Message from the fashion gods.
9) Most pain caused me by a student: demonstrating a technique I had taught him, the son of CPS’ current chief academic officer broke my rib blocking me out in a game of recess roundball.
10) Most unique vomiting: Sarah Bacon, from laughing at me.
11) Most extreme pedagogical change of direction: deciding twenty pages and two days into The Red Badge of Courage that it would not work–and discarding it.
12) Another tight spot: being threatened with a knife by a ninth grader. All I could think to say? “Make your move.” He walked out and never returned to school.
13) First decent disciplinary idea as a rookie: allowing a volcanically-tempered but extremely gifted 9th grader to simply get up, leave the classroom, and walk around and breathe whenever she felt like erupting. Worked! Valerie Wood Baker (not the student in question) can confirm.
14) Second decent disciplinary idea as a rookie: tired of an annoying senior interrupting me during instruction, I told him, “Here–you teach.” I then moved back to his seat and yammered while he tried to figure what to do. Worked! Steve Patterson (THE student in question), if you’re out there, please confirm!
15) Favorite unit ever taught: mini-unit during an interdisciplinary “Culture” unit at Smithton on “Chuck Berry and America.” Kids had to write songs either in emulation of Chuck’s style or using Chuck’s subject matter. We sent the best songs directly to Chuck!
16) Least favorite parental interaction: A student was pulled as a result of #15 due to my description of Chuck’s verbal style on “Too Much Monkey Business” as “machine-gun delivery.” Pulled. From my class. For good. Because I “did not have the moral fiber to teach her child.” Thanks, Wanda Brown, for having my back totally during that conference.
17) Favorite thing I was ever turned on to by students: The Watchmen, when it was coming out in serial form (Kevin McCoy, I am eternally grateful for that and other stuff).
18) Chicken-skin moment: Watching Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers dedicate “Buttholeville” to our club the Academy of Rock while playing at the Blue Note on March 30, 2005 (I know that song title makes it sound like an insult, but it wasn’t by a long shot). Tony Reda, standing next to me at the bar: “You’ve got to be pinching yourself right now.”
19) Stupidest coaching decision: violating every track record in the book by trying to pace Tim Cornell into a Smithton 1600 record by running alongside him (not on the track, at least!) during the final 110. Wearing an Elvis shirt. I think someone tackled me before I disqualified him.
20) Favorite coaching loss: Getting our butts kicked in a JV boys-vs.-varsity girls benefit game at Smithton (before a over-capacity crowd) after my guys had baited the girls continuously during school for the previous two weeks. Their coach, Shannon Gilleland, and I colluded on the notion, which raised money for Second Chance Animal Shelter, I think. Thanks, Reggie Hatton, for a) almost getting in a fight before the game; and b) losing the string that held your shorts up! We still would have gotten killed, but still! (Can someone find the Tribune article on that game? The accompanying photo, if I remember it corrrectly, reveals perfectly the mild panic I was feeling at the time…though I KNEW we would get our butts handed to us. The girls team went undefeated and destroyed EVERYONE they faced.)