I don’t usually tell tricks, but when I do, I do it well.
The first time that I made one happened five years ago. Our literature lesson is a short story entitled “The Last Lesson” by Alphonse Daudet. This story is about a teacher who’s conducting his last lesson because of foreign invasion. On that day, the protagonist whose name is Franz narrated his remarkable experience with Mr. Hamel’s class. The day was extraordinary because even the mayor and other members of the neighborhood were present in the class. All of them did so because they want to show the importance of education.
As a motivation, I told a trick a day before I asked them to read the story. I pretended and told my class that I would not be teaching them anymore. We already spent a month with each other, and some of them became close to me already. Few students wept and many thought it was unfair. They told me how they didn’t want to lose me. There were cries even in the hallways, and the news became hot topic in the campus. It even reached the elementary department.
When I broke the news that it was indeed a hoax, many smiled, laughed, and got extremely crazy because of the revelation. I had to explain that I did it on purpose to let them experience how it felt to have a last lesson. I think I did it again in the next two school years, and the same experience happened. These are among the most memorable experiences I had in my former school.
Just recently, I did it again.
I don’t have the same short story, but the story how the students took it seemed similar.
When I took a day off for some personal errands, I asked my friend to substitute for me. He was in charge of my two classes, and we plotted to tell one of the classes that I would no longer be their teacher. I actually did it on our last meeting, so I would be easy for him to do it. I did not know how he did it, but I guess he did a perfect job. A good actor. But the catch, he did it in the two classes.
When I checked on him what happened in the classes, he told me that some students cried because of the news. I was shocked because few of those students actually sent me personal messages and even a text message verifying the information. I don’t want to verify on social media, so I decided to keep it for a while.
I never expected the ripple effect that even my advisory class got the news that I would be leaving or would have a different schedule and a lot more other stories. Stories piled up one after another, and I told myself that I’d better clear things out the following day.
Unfortunately, I woke up so late, and I had to rush to school for my first period. I was shocked when many students from my advisory class raced to me when I arrived. All of a sudden, I realized the aftershock of the trick. I wanted to reveal that everything was an entire joke, but because half of my body was still in the dreamland, I was not able to do it. I went with the flow.
When I went to the faculty room to get some hot water, a fellow teacher asked me about the news, and I told her that it was just a trick. Another teacher who heard our conversation commended my friend for being a good actor. Whenever I walked in the hallway, some students asked me to confirm the news, but I just smiled.
As I attended in my other classes and taught the lessons, the same reaction prevailed. Many were teary-eyed and whispered a lot of asides telling me not to leave. Again, I went with the flow. As much as I wanted to break the news, I decided to do it during dismissal or the following meeting.
I had my lunch in my vacant time, which is the last period. I ate in our classroom since the last subject teacher was out because of a school program. I had informal conversation with my students and after I finished my meal, we had an even more intimate talk. It was a post-Teachers’ Day message (somewhat farewell program).
When dismissal approached, I finally decided to tell them that I was so sorry that I told the trick. I witnessed a lot of teary eyes and the atmosphere of our classroom was totally gloomy. I explained how it started, and it was a total comic relief. There were laughter, relief, and excitement. A girl went to me and spanked me lightly. There were roaring noise after class, and I had to talk with some of my students to make sure that everything was already clear. I can’t attain to send them home with a heavy heart.
Later on, the news spread. My students in other sections got it, and everyone was somewhat relieved. Few were mad because of the trick, but they told me that they both hate and love me. I also posted on our FB page to explain to everyone what actually happened and I tried to relate it to our lesson “Being Sensitive to Others.” I was so glad that even it was not part of the lesson, they were able to demonstrate it by their attitude. I was kind of happy, too for discovering how my students actually see me as their teacher. This time, I had to double my effort. I really appreciate their thoughtfulness.
Again, I did a trick, and the trick taught all of us a lesson. Mine is worth-keeping. I’ll not do it anymore. I promise. Hopefully…