April Fool’s

If ever there were a year that April Fool’s were both welcome AND despised, this would certainly be it. NO ONE is in the mood to mess around with anything. And yet, at the same time, we need humor and levity more than ever.

As a teacher, I’m often conflicted about April Fool’s jokes in the classroom. There’s an uneven power dynamic, and it generally makes me uncomfortable to have any sort of humor at my kids’ expense.

Still, there were two times I was able to pull a stunt off. I’ll tell you about one of them (and perhaps save the other for next year?).

April 1, 1999. Fourth grade. A few kids asked me if they could do an April Fool’s joke on the class. I agreed. They stayed in from recess. We swapped four or five pairs of desks, then swapped the name tags so it looked like all desks were in their original spot. The rest of the student desks remained untouched.

Cue the recess bell. Kids file in. I ask kids to take out their journals for writing. MASS CONFUSION as there are a lot of kids who have the wrong journals. There is some grumbling from people who could swear they left their desks cleaner than how they found them. Somehow we press ahead, and everyone gets their own journal. But the natives are restless. We’re going to need a reveal, and SOON.

“OK, class, let’s get started writing. What’s today?”
“Thursday.”
“Yes. And what day is it today?”
“Thursday!”
“Yes, but what DAY is it today?”
Thursday!”
“Yes, but…” I say, moving to the chalk board and gesturing to the date quite pointedly, “What’s today? What DAY is it?”
“April first.”
“What day?”
“April first!”
“Yes, and…” I say, folding my arms and looking around, “What does that mean?”

There is a moment of silence before the recognition sets in, before the kids realize they’d been had, before the kids realize how messed up things were, before kids realized that some of their classmates had been in on the fun.

That was PRICELESS. Many laughs were had. My guess is that some of them still remember that day.

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4 Responses to “April Fool’s”

  1. Tim Gels Says:

    I’ve not been comfortable being the prankster, but I love it when my students do it to me. One of our teachers does the old, “Who wants a brownie?” gag in which she gives each student a brown construction paper letter E. A brown E…get it? She then quickly follows up with an actual snack. The students enjoy that one.

  2. Fran Haley Says:

    My husband lives for this day! He’s a complete prankster, utterly convincing even though I KNOW it’s coming. Yesterday he tried to scare me by saying “Be still, oh my gosh, a snake!” I just looked at him .., not because I didn’t believe him (I forgot, again, that was April 1st, seems it should be, like, July) – but because I’d just finished two Google hangouts and did.not.care. if there was a snake. Seriously. Although when my brain isn’t Googled I detest snakes. I am glad you let the kids have their moments of glee – that’s creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration, right?? The thing is – JOY is important. There’s not enough of it in education And you’re so right – laughter is so needed now. Just pure, silly, real. It drives the tears back in. 🙂

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