It all comes crashing down

Okay, it didn’t, and I’m not actually speaking in metaphors. But it was scary. My school has a photolab which sits right above my classroom. They did a huge art studio renovation this summer, and some really heavy, shiny new equipment was hauled up there.

During my multivariable calc class yesterday, we were having a jolly ol’ time learning about conic sections. (Turns out that these students never took precalculus, which is how they got to my class… but to understand oblate spheroids and hyperbolic paraboloids, they need some conic sections.) I heard a creaking coming from the ceiling. It was loud and sounded like something (or somebody!) was going to fall through.

We jumped. Okay, of the five of us in the room, I was the only one who jumped. But it freaked us all out. I had all my students move to the other side of the classroom, in case the ceiling did come crashing down on that side. We heard the sounds two more times.

A few classes later, I was teaching my Algebra II students, and told them of this strange occurrence. By this time, I had shifted each desk a yard away from the side of the room that the noise came from. I — in a somewhat playful histrionic tone — told them that the ceiling might crash and they need to brace themselves for that possibility.

They mocked. They were skeptical.

We heard shuffling around, and they were like “Mr. Shah, that isn’t a ceiling falling.” Their skepticism increased. I answered, “that’s not what I heard before.”

Five minutes later, and the timing couldn’t have been better, the same horrifying noise I heard before resounded. And a student, who had gotten up to check a review problem answer, literally jumped and there was probably a yelp. All the students were freaked out, and, let’s be honest, it was nice to be vindicated. They laughed (at me) first, but I got to laugh (at them) last.

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