When the bell rang for my Junior/Senior Literature class, I looked up to see half a dozen students crowded around my desk.
“Um. What are you doing?” I asked.
They looked at me with wounded faces, like so many kicked puppies.
“You left us,” they said.
“For one day,” I said.
“We don’t like it when you leave us.”
“I gave you a sub,” I said.
“We don’t like subs,” they said. “We like you. Don’t leave us again, ok.”
“Aww. You’re so sweet. Go sit down.”
We got down to the business of class: reviewing for a test on Macbeth. Every question I asked got blank stares.
“Did you not read the last act of Macbeth??” I asked, mentally grumbling against substitute teachers in general.
“Yes, we read it… We didn’t get it.”
“What do you mean you didn’t get it?”
“You weren’t here. We didn’t understand it.”
“How can you not understand it?? Birnam Wood marches on Dunsinane, and MacDuff cuts off Macbeth’s head. What is there to understand?”
My students looked at each other, then at me.
“You weren’t here,” they said. “We’re not smart when you’re not here.”
“Yeah Miss F, you take our smartness with you.”
“You radiate smartness,” they said.
“You’re like a Wi-Fi for smartness.”
“A smartness hotspot.”
I shook my head. Flattery (and Ham Rolls) will get them everywhere.
“Take out Macbeth,” I said. “Let’s read that last act again…”