I finally plugged in my Happy Light, a Christmas gift intended to combat the winter blues. My classroom is a fluorescent box with no windows. The light quality is horrible, but I haven't spent much time in the room since Christmas break. Snow days piled on interminably, and on the random days school was in session, I was in the computer lab trying to finish a writing project we started before the break.
Today, I was in my classroom, and the Happy Light made its debut. I initially sat it on my desk which put it at eye level with every kid in the room.
My fourth hour class, comprised of 20 boys and 8 girls, was the first group to enjoy the Happy Light. They became happy as soon as they entered the room.
"Ooooooooooh! It's so bright!"
"What is it?"
They danced around it but didn't get too close. The tardy bell rang, and I had to herd the mob of 10 or so boys around my desk into seats. The Happy Light required immediate explanation. Nothing else was going to happen until they understood the new addition to our classroom.
I explained Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Some of the kids already knew about it, but the ones who didn't bought into it immediately. We even spent five minutes trading stories about how the perpetual gloom of January got us down. Yeah, they got it. They knew about SAD, but now we had our class Happy Light and all would be well.
See? This is why I love teaching freshman. In spite of their squirreliness and desperate attempts to prove they're grown up, they aren't jaded yet. They loved the Happy Light.
"Can I get a tan?"
"No. There are no UV rays being emitted."
"The sun'll blind you. Will I go blind if I stare into it?"
"Don't stare into it."
"Oh my god, Ms. Owens! I can't stop staring into it. I'm gonna go blind!"
And so it went. I finally got everyone settled down and working...for about a minute.
"I'm not moving! This is my seat."
"Just scoot to the side!"
"You're blocking my happy!"
I stood in front of the room and watched four kids maneuver so they were all receiving maximum Happy Light distribution.
Later, the same group of kids returned from lunch. I was standing in the hall trying manage the post-lunch chaos and didn't return to my room immediately. When I did, I found 15 of the 20 boys in the class crowded around my desk.
One kid had his eyeball pressed against the Happy Light, doing his best imitation of a horror movie victim. "AAAAAAGGGGGHHHH! I'm blind! I'm blind!"
Another kid was licking it. Actually licking it.
The rest of them were dancing around, encouraging the geniuses with body parts against the light.
"Get your tongue off my Happy Light!"
The class exploded in laughter, and the moths...I mean boys...scattered and fluttered back to their seats. All except for the one whose eyeball had been pressed against the light. He held his hand over his eye and staggered dramatically around the room.
One of the long suffering girls fixed him with a look of utter disdain, the kind of disdain that only a teenage girl can affect.
"You. Are. Stupid."
He ignored her and collapsed smugly into his seat, oblivious to the fact that he won't have a date before he graduates high school. He had entertained the room. He was happy. Really, teenage girl notwithstanding, most of the room was happy.
All hail the power of the light.
For safety's sake, I moved the Happy Light up high on a cabinet, so it shines down on us instead of hitting us at eye level. I briefly contemplated what would happen if I brought an actual bug zapper in the room and decided against it. Mass electrocution isn't conducive to learning.
Because adolescent male humans are much like moths.