September of 1998. First teaching job. First day of school.
In the middle of one period or another, a student brought me a strand of hair with something attached to the shaft. She wanted to know what it was. One look and I realized it was a nit, meaning that someone in the room had lice.
I had lice in 5th grade, and I remember the shame of the entire class watching you being sent home early from school.
This was a rare situation in which my inexperience working in public education was a plus. Had I gone to the administration about the issue, they might have fumigated the school or combed everybody’s hair or something.
Instead, I put the nit under a microscope , and we watched the larva squirm within its egg. By the end of the day, the heat from the microscope’s lamp had fried it.
That was my first real-life experience with what my education professors referred to as a “teachable moment.” However, lice were probably not what they had in mind…