April Fools!

Okay, yes, I'm a few days late, but this week, the first back from spring break, has been a little hectic and I haven't had time to post before now. So.

Last year I didn't do anything for April Fools' Day at school - I'm not big on practical jokes or on trying to embarrass people for believing what others tell them. I tend to be pretty gullible (I was totally the kid who bought everything. My friend Liz: "Did you know the word gullible got taken out of the dictionary? It had too many L's!" Me: "Really? How weird!.....Oh.") and I never liked that feeling. But this year, I thought it could be fun, if it wasn't done in a mean-spirited way.

Someone on a teaching forum I read suggested trading classes with a colleague, which I thought would be perfect. It would have to be a subject I could actually teach, meaning science was out - even with a lesson plan, I might not be able to answer questions (pathetic, seeing as it's sixth grade science, but often true). It also seemed best if we had the same basic students, eliminating math and social studies, as they have all the English Language Learners who get pulled out of standard Language Arts. Reading it was!

I talked to the reading teacher on my core who agreed it would be fun. We cleared it with our principal who loved the idea (my principal is generally awesome - though I disagree with how she handles a few things, overall I feel very fortunate to have someone who is supportive and open to ideas, even from a second-year teacher), told our core, and went for it. We each planned a lesson that the other could teach pretty easily - my class, they were analyzing a personal narrative for examples of sensory details and figurative language after a warmup matching figurative language terms to examples; her class was reading newspaper articles, practicing using context clues for unknown vocab, and writing responses.

Day of, we wore nametags with the other's name and swapped rooms. (We tried for wigs too as we have very different hair, but we couldn't find any that weren't super expensive.) As the kids came in, they'd ask, "Ms. Teachin'! What are you doing here? Where's Ms. Reading?"

I'd respond, "Um...I AM Ms. Reading."

They'd say, "Why are you teaching this class?"

"Because I ALWAYS teach this class. I'm Ms. Reading, and I teach Reading. Seriously, it's been like this all year - what's the deal?"

They loved it. Most of them figured out pretty quickly that we were doing it for April Fools' Day - a few, I'd have to ask them the date and then another name for that date before the light dawned. And they adjusted really quickly to calling us by the other's name. Throughout the day, they'd run up to me and say, "Hi Ms. Reading!" then giggle uncontrollably.

I only got caught out a couple of times....once when a student stated the reading teacher's first and last name, said it sounded funny, then asked what my name was. I responded Allison without thinking, just as another student said the reading teacher's name for me. The kid who tricked me glowed with triumph, as did the kid who'd remembered the swap better than I had.

It's important to have fun in the classroom. We still got all the work done that was designed for that day, which matters, but my guess is a lot of these kids will remember that day and that their teachers cared enough to do something silly at least as well as they'll remember the difference between a simile and a metaphor.


"I'm a dreamer but I ain't the only one Got problems but we love to have fun" -K'naan, "Dreamer"

I teach eighth grade Language Arts at an urban school. My kids kick ass and will change the world. I want everyone to know.
Copyright 2009 I'm a Dreamer All rights reserved.
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