To those of you who read my blog - HELLO! Long time no see. Sorry to have left you high and dry. I keep saying out loud "I need to blog. I need to blog! I NEED to blog!!" And I have been working here and there on a LONG post about my Spring Festival vacation, but it's not quite finished yet. Soon! I thank you for taking interest in my life and my goings on. I don't think of myself as a very interesting person, but I'm glad that you want to stay up to date on my life. Because I love catching up with all of you, too!
April Fool's as a teacher is a lot of fun! The students are always on their guard, always trying to trick you, and are sometimes easily tricked themselves. Today, I had several students attempt to get me to "check if my shoe laces were tied" (I was wearing ballet flats) and get me to wipe my face because "there's something on it right there." I even had one student tell me he heard I was getting fired! Out of all the tricks and games, one student successfully had me wipe at my face when he told me I had ink on my chin. He had bragging rights for the day.
Today, I got my students good! Last year I pretended I lost my voice and that worked well. Until someone caught on and screamed "APRIL FOOLS'" and then my cover was blown. But this year, I vowed to not crack. I vowed to not smile. I vowed to convince them that I was NOT joking!
As the bell rang, I had my principal come in and make an announcement to the students...
"Everyone have a seat please! Shhh! Okay, I have some bad news. We received an email this morning from the government of New Brunswick. As of today, all students will complete the ESLA exam in Grade 10 and not in Grade 11. But it gets worse. The test will be tomorrow."
Sidenote: ESLA is the exam the students need to take at our school to receive their New Brunswick diploma which allows them to attend universities in Canada and the United States.
The students gasped and groaned and a few cried "OH NO!" However, some of the students were on their guard and a couple whispered to their friends "It's a joke." "April Fools'" "She's not serious." This is when I stepped in.
"Guys. I know it's April Fools' and you think we are tricking you. But it is just a coincidence that this is happening on April Fools' day. This is not a joke. It is very serious. We've talked before about this test and how important it is. We wouldn't joke about such a thing."
This is the point where things changed. Students jaws started to drop. You saw panic start to set in a little bit. But some still seemed a little skeptical and not phased by my prank. I knew I needed to act sterner and a little more agitated.
"So today we have a lot of work to do. Essentially, we are going to teach you all of the Grade 11 knowledge you need for this exam in our 40 minute class."
Yelps of "WHAT?!" and "SERIOUSLY?!" came from all corners of the classroom. And guys, I didn't crack a smile. (If you know me, I am NEVER successful at pranks because I always burst in laughter or am grinning. I was quite proud of my acting!)
"Okay. I think you guys will be successful in the listening and speaking portion of the exam." I pretended to be a little scattered in my thoughts and actions. I even stopped and talked to myself sometimes being like "No, that won't work." and "There's not enough time, Melissa!" I really made them think I was going crazy! "So, I think it's best if we work on your writing. For ESLA, you need to write TWO five-paragraph essays. You guys are getting really good at writing one strong paragraph. But today you need to step it up and write 5 paragraphs about one topic. Okay, take out a pen and a paper and write a 5-paragraph essay about your favourite movie. You have ten minutes to do this."
Students were frozen. They were so overwhelmed by all the information I was giving to them that they just didn't know what to do. Some got out a paper and pen and started writing furiously. Others sat frozen, mouths open, breathing heavily. Others were just looking straight ahead saying "What? How is this possible?" One student even slammed his pen down on the table and yelled "Impossible! Ten minutes is not enough time." I yelled back to him: "That's all the time we have!"
I circulated around the class urging the students to work faster, put pressure on them, reminded them how important their success was. I handed out pens to students who forgot them and sternly told them how important it is to bring a pen to a test, in which I received responses of "But we didn't know!"
"Okay guys! I changed my mind. Scratch out everything you just wrote. I want you to do a different topic that I think you can write more about."
"I want you to write a 5-paragraph essay about how Melissa is the most clever teach you've ever had because APRIL FOOLS'"
Nothing. They all froze. And then one student yelled "I KNEW IT!" and then the class erupted in cries and yells of "OHH!" "OH MY GOSH!" "WHAT!!!!" and "AHHHH!" They laughed. A couple of students teared up in relief. Others pointed at me and said "You are SO tricky!" My favourite response though is the student who said: "Melissa, you should quit being a teacher and become an actor. You are much better at acting!" (I'm not so sure if this was meant to be an insult or a compliment...) I got applause and we all laughed and replayed the moments out loud for about 10 minutes. It was a pretty good moment! And it went so well!
As I was writing this, I thought that some people might think I was a cruel teacher. But it was all a joke and I did it with a class who I knew would find it funny! Which they definitely did, because the next class that came to my room were congratulating me on my well thought out prank.
Teaching on April Fool's Day is fun! Get creative, guys. I remember the jokes my teachers played on me and my classmates when I was a student. I once had a teacher that gave us picture books that wouldn't open. I had another teacher in high school make us do a retest (THAT MADE NO SENSE!) after telling us we had all failed the previous curriculum test. I think my students will remember this joke for a long time to come. I know I will!