How many of you have ever had a student return after an absence and ask this most annoying of questions: “Did I miss anything yesterday?”
The evil side of me wants to reply in the most sarcastic tone I can muster, “No, we put education and all educational pursuits on hold while you were gone. School just isn’t school without you, and we spent the seven hours you were home mourning your absence. Lucky you! You have no work to make up as we accomplished nothing all day!” Of course, I refrain from such unconstructive comments and direct them instead to copy another student’s assignment book and give them the work they missed. I remind myself that kids believe that the world revolves around them, thus it is only natural for them to think that nothing could possibly transpire without their glowing presence.
Just as I am licking my wounds and practicing my counting to ten and breathing deeply routine, they hand me a letter from their parent. Assuming that it is the explanation for their recent absence, I curiously open the missive only to release a pained sigh. Because clutched in my unbelieving hand is the same inquiry that was so boldly asked just moments ago by their unsuspecting progeny. Can this parent really believe that in a seven hour time period nothing of consequence occurred? If the roles were reversed and I sent a letter to their place of employment asking them if they accomplished anything at all the day before, would they not be insulted? Now, the counting to ten and breathing deeply routine is simply not enough. I move to phase two in my calm-down routine. Making a quick excuse, I move to the hallway where I can sputter and spew to my heart’s content. Then I count to ten, breathe deeply, and return to my desk and the letter that requires a carefully constructed and very diplomatic answer. I forgive the cause of the sputtering and spewing as I need to get on with the work at hand because, in spite of rumors to the contrary, I actually have educational plans for the day.