The first day of school went off without incident. Except. My plan for the semester (for my life, really) was to wear the Power Outfit and scare my students into respecting me. Or my clothes, at least. But I didn't do any shopping before the semester started, so I had to go for the casual teacher outfit.
Also, I try to be the right combination of nice and scary on the first day, so that the students who will inevitably end up to be a pain drop and the nice students stay. I wasn't even mean in my first two classes.
But then, as I was talking about the importance of participation, I saw a student in the back of the class doing something with a small handheld electronic device. So I said, "Or, for example, if you are sitting at the back of the room, playing with an electronic device instead of paying attention, I'll remember that." Nothing. He didn't even look up. I paused for dramatic effect. The class was quiet. Then, he finally looked up, and I asked him to put it away. "If you don't want to be here," I said, "don't come. But there are people who want to be in this class. I can't make you a better writer unless you want to be one."
The students sat in a stunned silence. Then I went on with my boring monologue concerning the syllabus.
I rushed right home to see if he dropped. So far, he hasn't.