Simple classroom rule: Never touch my desk – ever! |

Simple classroom rule: Never touch my desk – ever!

I’ve a classroom rule that some kids won’t follow despite its concrete clarity: never touch my desk – ever!

Kids think I’m mean. They’re too young to understand. I don’t waste their time explaining.

I have a framed photo on my desk of a red sign posted in Lassen National Park: Don’t Go Beyond This Point.

Polished oak represents discipline, hard work, and rule following. An oak desktop is no playground for a kid’s candied fingerprints.

“Maybe it’s the desk and what it represents — where it’s from.”

Desk banishment includes every drawer; top, right side file cabinet and the three left hand sliders.

I’d lock my desk if I had a key. Regardless criminals know their way around a desk.

Thus my rule: never touch my desk – ever!

Yet, standard practice used to dictate educators seat class clowns and troubled teens within arm’s length of forbidden territory – the teacher’s desk.

I spent a lot of time sitting within arm’s reach of my third grade teacher’s desk.

One day when she wasn’t looking, I reached into her desk drawer and attempted to pull a tissue from its box.

The tissue box lifted revealing a hidden bottle of brandy.

Now-a-day classrooms are so packed kids always sit next to the teacher’s desk.

I keep a bag of candy bribes and personal snacks in my desk’s middle drawer.

Kids know there’s a candy stash and the rule: never touch my desk – ever!

One Tuesday afternoon I noticed the stash of bite sized Snickers had dwindled considerably.

I restocked the candy and by Wednesday afternoon I knew I had a rat or a thief.

The problem was masked as an opportunity to reinforce my classroom rule.

On Thursday I noted the six students sitting left of my desk. No thief detected, yet candy disappeared.

I’ve prevented desk thievery before. In sixth grade Bobby Pruitt would steal pencils from my desk. I rigged a rubber band powered crossbow trap and loaded the bow with a 12-inch ruler to shoot when my desk was opened.

The flying ruler nearly took Bobby’s eye out.

I ruled out flying rulers, although I teach sixth grade, and settled on an electronic sliding window alarm to capture my rule breaking rat: never touch my desk – ever!

The two-piece gadget was the size of a pack of chewing gum. When its magnetic sensor gets separated it screams louder than the best smoke detector.

Friday morning I stuck the sensor to the bottom of my candy drawer and the magnet to my desk.

I made it a point to teach with my back to the trap. I didn’t glance at my desk. By lunch my efforts were in vain.

The blonde-headed little girl that sits next to my desk after lunch became suspect.

I wasn’t disappointed. Mid-seventh period an ear splitting siren screamed from my desk. Kids covered their ears.

I slowly turned my head and smiled. “Gotcha!”

“It wasn’t me! I didn’t get in your drawer?” Blondie was the only wide-eyed student without hands pressed to her skull.

I sauntered toward the blaring alarm and mouthed. “I didn’t say you were in my drawer.”

Three bags of candy were restitution. A campus suspension for stealing the punishment.

Despite the loud electronic desk lesson some kids will remain deaf to the rule; never touch my desk – ever.

Maybe it’s the desk and what it represents – where it’s from.

Burned into my desk drawer, inches from my little candy alarm, is printed: Product of Prison Industries.

Teacher desks are built and polished by the hands of adult prisoners, former public school students, as rehabilitation.

Kid’s think I’m mean. They’re too young to understand. I don’t have time to explain; never touch my desk – ever!

Ty Pelfrey is a Nevada County resident and teacher. Contact Ty at

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