This morning, the teacher in the classroom next door warned me that I might not have very many seniors in class. She told me that it was, in fact, Senior Ditch Day. “Ah, yes,” I say nostalgically, my mind peering through recent history at the senior I once was.
My colleague noticed my whimsical expression and asked if it brought back memories. I said no, of course, and we shouldn’t encourage such behavior. It was a canned answer, yet another attempt to separate my teacher self from myself. I do this often, the state of education being what it is. Teachers are routinely reprimanded for things they let slip in class or amongst not-so-tolerant teachers. Students are more than happy to share controversial information with their parents, especially when it involves teachers. But the moment parents attempt to care about the proceedings of the lesson in their son or daughter’s algebra class, they flee, hide, shrivel into introverts. When a parent decides a teacher’s shananigans will not stand, the principal hears it. Jobs are a rare commodity these days, and it doesn’t fill me with joy that my school is forced to axe 4-5 teachers this year due to Long Beach Unified’s 50 million dollar budget gap. This is about the time administrators start hating their jobs, and begin searching for reasons to fire teachers. Hate makes the process so much easier to justify.
But I couldn’t keep such a great day down. The few seniors that did show up to my philosophy and Rhetoric and Composition classes quizzed my knowledge on the whereabouts of their fellow students.
“Your friends,” I explain, “have ditched. It is senior ditch day, after all, or didn’t you get the memo?”
My students ask, “So since there are only six of us today, what will we do?”
The answer, of course was clear.
“Today, we will plan the greatest senior prank this school has ever seen.” I pull a roll of white butchar paper from the closet.
“Luis,” I point my index finger squarely at his forehead, but he is already moving towards the roll of paper, open sharpie in hand, smile on his face, eager to participate. “Draw a detailed map of the school.” In here, I am General Patton.
“Don’t micky mouse me on this, I need details. Now, who in here knows where we can get 400 white mice?”