The Science Of Pranking

, , , , , | Learning | September 18, 2017

(I like to prank my students every now and then, or respond to ridiculous questions with ridiculous answers. My students like this, and can catch on to when I’m kidding, but sometimes I can still trick them. After two semesters of this, one of my students approaches me during a work period and asks if he has any homework. I bring him to the work board and point out three things, and he tells me he has completed them all.)

Me: “All right, then. I guess you have nothing left to do except prepare for your science test.”

Student #1: “Science test?”

Me: “Yeah, that huge one worth 50% of your mark? It’s tomorrow.”

(A moment of panic sets in before he realizes I’m kidding. We laugh it off, and a bunch of the other students who hear the exchange laugh about the “science test” as well.)

Student #2: “Wait? WHAT? What science test?”

Student #3: “There’s a science test?”

(There’s a moment of silence where we realize these two students clearly weren’t paying attention. Before I can say anything, another student pipes up.)

Student #4: “Yeah, don’t you remember? We’ve been reviewing for it all week.”

Student #2: “What?! I was away for a week!”

Student #5: “Oh, that’s not good; it’s worth 50% of our science mark.”

Student #3: “WHAT?”

Student #6: “Yeah, the test is huge, too. Over four pages.”

Student #2: “Oh, my God, why are we working on our stories? We have to study!”

(The two students raced to their desks to get their science books, while the rest of the class burst out laughing. Finally, they realized it was a joke. I was so proud!)

Detention Retention

, , | Learning | September 13, 2017

(I am in seventh grade. I really like reading books, and I read whenever possible. One day my math class has a substitute teacher.)

Substitute: “I am going to hand out a worksheet. You must finish it before the end of class.”

(The worksheets do not take long and the substitute has no other tasks for us. When I finish, I read my book, but my classmates talk and eventually became very noisy and out of control.)

Substitute: “Everyone be quiet! Go back to your seats! This is unacceptable. I will be telling [Math Teacher] about this!”

(A lot of students complain as they sit down. I really do not expect to be heard among so many voices.)

Me: “But I wasn’t talking.”

Substitute: “What’s your name?”

(I am embarrassed, but I tell her and she writes it down. She has obviously seen me reading. The next day, our usual math teacher is back.)

Math Teacher: “I was very disappointed with what I heard from [Substitute]. You will all have lunch detention for the rest of the week! Except [My Name].”

(Lunch detention means sitting in a classroom during lunch and not being allowed to talk. It does not affect our record. Since all of my friends are in my math class, I sit alone at lunch for the next few days. From my perspective, not being “punished” with detention means that I read silently in a noisy cafeteria instead of in a quiet, peaceful classroom. I am very uncomfortable with being the only one spared from my math teacher’s anger. A few weeks later, my English class gets out of control.)

English Teacher: “This is the third time I have had to tell you to lower your voices! You will all get lunch detention except [My Name]. [My Name], thank you for listening to instructions.”

(I am horrified. I have, of course, been reading my book quietly, but most of my friends are also in my English class, and I do not want a repeat of the previous experience.)

Me: “Wait, no. I was talking too. I should get lunch detention.”

English Teacher: “…are you sure?”

Me: “Yes!”

(It was the only detention I ever had and, although I knew I shouldn’t, I enjoyed it.)

Harassing Your Harasser

, , , , , , | Friendly | September 12, 2017

Back in middle school, I had a growth spurt that made me the tallest girl in my grade, and taller than most of the boys. Despite being about as curvy as a broom, I got some unwanted attention.

One day, I was at my locker and suddenly felt an arm around my waist. This short guy I’d never seen before, so short the top of his head was below my shoulder, was trying to lead me away.

This kid was calling me “babe” and talking about introducing “his girl” to “his boys,” but didn’t even tell me his name when I asked. I pried his hand off my hip and hurried off to class.

Every locker break after that, he’d show up and put his arm around me, trying to chat me up, without ever asking me anything about myself. No matter how many times I told him to go away, twisted his fingers, pinched him, or shoved him, his arm was glued to my waist until locker break was over.

I never did figure out his name. He had the same haircut as half the boys in my grade, and I didn’t really trust my teachers.

One day I’d had enough.

I had just opened my locker and taken my backpack and books out when he showed up again. He was expecting me to shove him away; he was not expecting me to put my arm behind him and frog-march him into my locker. I nearly got the door shut all the way before he began flailing and ran out.

Nobody ever said anything to me about it, even though there were plenty of witnesses. I never got in trouble. I never saw the little pest again, either.

I felt guilty until I learned what “sexual harassment” was a few years later.

Cent-lessly Lost

, , , , | Learning | August 31, 2017

(Due to the new education curriculum, there has been a lot of discussion regarding new ways to assess learning, the goal being to move away from standardized tests. We’ve made great progress so far, but decide to use a math assessment package at the end of the year, in order to have some data in regards to the students’ math skills. The goal is to enable us to see where we need more math support. Furthermore, since my class of grade sevens are going to go to the high school next year, we want some data to give the teachers that will have them to further help them out. Prior to testing, we comb through the package and edit it so it focuses on mental math and problem solving. I feel confident that the content is good for my students, since we have a lot of review and money knowledge problems. The test starts and one of my students calls me over to help them with a question.)

Question: “Sarah has $5 to spend on golf balls. Used golf balls are 50 cents and new golf balls are 75 cents. Show all the possible ways Sarah could spend her $5.”

Student: “I don’t understand what the question is asking.”

Me: “Okay, so Sarah has $5, and she has to use all that money towards golf balls. So, you’re trying to see how many she can buy with the prices listed.”

Student: “But those are in cents, not dollars.”

Me: “Exactly, so how many cents in a dollar?”

(Silence.)

Me: *growing more and more concerned* “…H-How many cents in a dollar?”

Student: *look of confusion on their face*

Me: “Okay, how many quarters do you need to have one dollar?”

Student: *thinks, then gets excited when they know the answer* “Four!”

Me: “Yes! Now how many cents are in a quarter?”

Student: “25.”

Me: “Exactly, so four quarters equals…”

Student: “75 cents!”

Me: “…No.”

(Normally, I don’t like to give my kids the answers and prefer them to figure it out themselves. For this case, I made an exception. She was then able to figure out the problem on her own, and I really hope that moment of cluelessness was just due to nerves. Even more astounding, we had a transfer student from Asia do that assessment and I only had to explain our currency once before he got it, opposed to the student who was born and raised in Canada!)

Because Fasting All Day Isn’t Hard Enough Already

, , , , | Learning | August 28, 2017

(I am in eighth grade. My family is Muslim and it is the month of Ramadan, one where we have to fast between dawn and sunset. My last meal was the Suhur [predawn meal] and I’m on my last class, which is gym. By this point I’m very hungry, and don’t have the most energy for gym. My teacher stops me after class one day.)

Teacher: [My Name], I notice you’ve been slowing down for the past week or so in running laps. You all right?”

Me: “Yeah, I’m fine. Just haven’t been eating much during the daytime.

Teacher: “Why’s that?”

Me: “My family is fasting right now for Ramadan, so I can’t really eat anything after 5:30ish.”

Teacher: “Well, no wonder you’re going so slow. How much longer does this Ramadan thing last? Until then you can sit on the bench, all right?”

(I do as I am told for the next week. The Monday of the fourth week of Ramadan, I get called into the principal’s office. When I get there, there is another teacher I’ve never had, the school nurse, and someone that I will later learn is from Child Protective Services.)

Principal: “Do you know why you’re here today, [My Name]?”

Me: “No, what did I do?”

Nurse: “You haven’t done anything wrong. We’re here to talk to you about your eating disorder.”

Me: “Disorder? I don’t have any eating disorder.”

Principal: “Now, [My Name], you don’t need to lie to us. Your teacher reported that you haven’t been eating at all, and that your family is encouraging this dangerous behavior. We called in someone who can make sure you’re well taken care of.”

(At this point I’m thoroughly confused, and think that my gym teacher has said something to them.)

Me: “I don’t have an eating disorder or anything like that! I just haven’t been eating during the day for Ramadan.”

CPS Worker: “Wait, did you say Ramadan?”

Teacher #2: “Don’t be silly, that’s just a made up thing that people use to not feed their family.”

CPS Worker: “Er, Principal [Name], may I have a word with you for just a moment?”

(At this point, the adults talk among themselves for a few minutes. After hushed arguing, the nurse comes back to talk to me.)

Nurse: “Go on back to class. There’s just been a misunderstanding is all.”

(I went back to class even more confused than before. It wasn’t until a couple of years later, when my own little brother was in that middle school, that I found out what happened. Apparently, my gym teacher was making idle talk with some other teachers, and the teacher I didn’t know said something to the principal. I also found out that he didn’t believe that Islam was a real religion, and didn’t bother to include the holiday in his story to the principal. My brother later told me that the teacher always glared at him, due to our last name.)

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