The Life of Bon: Prank time

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Prank time

All 17 year olds deserve a good prank every once in awhile.

Today I took it upon myself to administer said prank.

This morning we started the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller.  It is about the Salem witch hunt.  Basically the play is about widespread paranoia and rumors that quickly run out of control.  So before we started the book, I decided to give my students a little dose of... well...widespread paranoia and rumors that quickly get out of control.  It couldn't hurt, right?

Unlike my Christmas decorating fiasco, everything went exactly according to plan.  Which proves my theory that I am more talented at being a teacher than being a wife.

I started out explaining a bit about the book, about Puritan society at the time, etc.  I drew a map of the U.S. on the board and pointed to Massachussettes where the book takes place.  As I lectured, I kept stealing quick glances and jerking my neck.  A quick head turn here, a sudden stop there.

After a minute of this, I knew my students were primed.  "I'm sorry, it's just that I keep thinking I see something out of the corner of my eye.  It's because I saw a mouse this morning and I don't know where it went and I've been real jumpy ever since." 
"WHAAAAAAAT?!?!??!?!" every girl in the class screamed as they jumped out of their chairs onto their desks.  "Teacher there's a mouse in here?!?!?!"
"Yes, yes, just calm down, you hooligans.  It's probably just my imagination.  I'm sure the mouse is gone by now, I just get nervous.  Every time I see one of you tapping your foot I think it's that mouse."

I looked around at their faces.  The girls were scared and nervous and anxious.  The boys were excited and pumped up and anxious... a different kind of anxious.  The "let's kill a mouse!" kind of anxious.

Oh, you poor young students.  So gullible.  So ripe.

"Let's just stop thinking about it and continue on with the lesson."  I managed to get them concentrating on the board again.  "Puritan society at the time was extremely harsh.  You have to understand that these people were religious fanatics.  Fanatics, I tell you!  Dancing- SIN.  Singing- SIN. Laughing- OH MY GOSH I SAW THE MOUSE!  IT RAN UNDER KATE'S BACKPACK!"

And just like that, I had the entire class in an uproar.

The girls were up crouching on top of their desks; the boys were all up out of their seats, looking where I was pointing.

"Everyone lift up your backpacks, it's around here somewhere!" I ordered.
"I'm going to kill it for you!" declared Allan as he grabbed the nearest yardstick.  "I'll beat it's head off if I have to, but I won't let it hurt you!"  Aren't teenage boys charming?

Then, from the other side of the room, my aide yelled, "It's over here!  I see it!"  You better believe I had enlisted the help of my aides to make the scene more believable.  Yes, in addition to making my lunches, I force my student aides to star as supporting actors in key roles.

All the boys in the class ran to the other side of the room, where the mouse was reported to have been seen.

The boys looking for the "mouse".  Such fools.

"I saw it go behind the computer!" yelled the aide.

At this point I knew I could do just about anything and the kids would believe it.  I had them eating out of my hand. EATING RIGHT FROM MY HAND I TELL YOU.

"Ok, ok, boys, get out of the way, let me check this out!"  I commanded.  "I think we are scaring it too much, and it's not going to come out."  So I pushed those young bucks aside and went "looking" for the mouse myself.  Aren't I a brave soul?

I moved the cardboard that was next to the computer.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  Boy, did I let loose.  I screamed, I jumped up and down, I ran away like a little girl, I waved my hands in front of the face, I about dang near believed myself- the acting was that good.
"It's over there, it's over there, it's over there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I cried.

Allan started hitting everything in sight with the yardstick, "You will not live to see tomorrow, you conniving little S.O.B. mouse!"  Wow, for not saying a peep in class, Allan sure does have a violent side.

" I'm going to go get the custodian to set a mouse trap!"
" I'm going to faint!"
" I'm going to tear that mouse limb for limb so he'll never bother you again!"

My students were a-ranting and a-raving.

Time to fess up.

"Silence you fools!  I lied to you!  There's no mouse!  You're getting worked up over nothing!  Get back in your seats."

There was silence indeed.

They all stared at me blankly, frozen in place.

Finally someone spoke.  Softly.  "What?"

"It was part of the introduction to the book.  There's no mouse.  I just made it up."

They were shocked.   Dumbfounded.  Utterly confused.

Exactly the way I like my 17 year olds.

Oh don't you worry, I tied it all in.  Turned it into the greatest object lesson ever seen this side of the Mississippi.  "Why did you believe there was a mouse if you hadn't seen it for yourselves?"  "How do we liken this to the witch trials?"  "How do rumors and paranoia spread?"  "What makes rumors catch fire?"  "What cases do you think we will see of this in the book?"  I got their little brains a-ticking.

If you are wondering if I feel bad about pulling a huge prank on 160 students, the answer is no, I don't.  Not at all.  Those sneaky little punk kids have had it coming for awhile now.

And you know what?  They might act mad- upset that I lied to them and pranked them good- but they're not really.  They enjoyed every second of it and we all know it. 

One of these days I'm sure the principal is going to walk past my classroom while I am pulling a massive prank on my students, and then I will surely be in a world of trouble. 

But until then....

prank on!


  1. BEAUTIFUL. I wish I could go back to high school...

  2. Now that is awesome :)

  3. kalista9:14 AM

    Definitely great object lesson! That must have been fun. I always think of you when I think of April Fools Day pranks. :)

  4. They won't forget that! Great idea.

  5. I think you are a genius teacher. I'm an English major (reformed from temporarily thinking I wanted to be an English education major) and I can definitely appreciate this style of hands on learning. It takes a talented, imaginative mind to be able to stun high schoolers more concentrated on their hormones and angst than literature. I'm so impressed and pleased that there are teachers like you in the world.

    P.S. I really want to follow your blog but I can't get it to pull up on Bloglovin'. Hopefully that's something you'll think about looking into the future because it's so clean and easy to do!

    Opinionated Girl

  6. you are such a good teacher, makes me wish I was one!!!

  7. So SO funny, and totally Brilliant idea. Way to get your students to really understand the book in a fun way! This is awesome. Wish I had a teacher like you when I was in school!


  8. This is genius!!! Can I go back to high school English and have you be my teacher?