We’ve all had that one student. You know the one. The clever, charming child who NEVER STOPS TALKING. The one kid whose very presence changes the entire climate of your class.
Cody was that student.
Cody had caramel skin and wavy, brown hair. All the thirteen-year-old girls thought he was dreamy. Cody’s goal was to play in the NFL. His mom was feeding him a steady diet of vitamins and protein shakes, so apparently, she was on board with the plan.
Cody was smart and popular. He spent most of his day in regular ed classes, but came to the special ed room for Language Arts. Despite excelling in most subjects and being very articulate, Cody could not write.
But he could TALK.
At the age of twelve, Cody could carry on intelligent conversations with adults, persuade his peers out of their last piece of gum, and negotiate his way out of just about anything.
Students like Cody can be a teacher’s worst nightmare, or sometimes-- their biggest help.
It was observation season. Nothing causes competent, quality teachers to lose their minds faster than being observed. Teachers were given fair warning that administration could be “popping in” at any time, but these observations were not planned.
First hour was my Language Arts class. Driving to work that morning, I decided it was going to be a “work day.” Meaning I wasn’t teaching anything new, but I would give the kids the equivalent of a study hall to catch up on late or missing work. These days were a rare gift. I knew the kids would be thrilled.
Patiently, I waited for the class to settle down, so I could deliver the exciting news.
Then the door opened.
Mrs. Washington entered, clutching a clipboard. She wore big bracelets with bangles and pretended to tiptoe into the room. My stomach dropped as I leaped up like Wonder Woman, pretending I had not been planning to sit at my desk all hour.
I’m not sure why Daily Oral Language (D.O.L.)--something we hadn’t done in at least four months-- popped in my head as the thing to do at this moment, but it did.
I smiled at Mrs. Washington and said, “Everyone please get out your D.O.L. notebooks," as if it was what I had been planning all along.
Jackson stared at me. Taylor looked confused. I tried to communicate with my class telepathically, Just go with it- please!
Cody got it. He spoke up.
“Helloooo? Guys? Your DOL notebooks? Come on, what’s wrong with you?” Everyone just stared at him. They had no idea what he was talking about.
Cody proceeded to get up and grab the stack of journals (NOT the D.O.L. notebooks) sitting on the plastic shelf and handed each one out to its owner. I stood amazed. This guy is good.
I fired up the Smart Board. Mrs. Washington scooted her chair closer to Cody.
“Tell me about D.O.L.,” I heard her say.
No, no, no! Why is she asking questions?
But, Cody didn’t miss a beat.
“Oh, D.O.L.,” he paused, smiling at her. “We do that every day,” he said. TOTAL LIE.
Mrs. Washington wrote something down.
“Can I see some of your D.O.L. work?” she asked.
Cody proudly opened his notebook to reveal yesterday’s journal entry. Mrs. Washington looked pleased.
Quickly I changed course. I put a journal writing prompt on the Smart Board. Most of the class opened their journals and began writing. I breathed a sigh of relief. Never had I been more grateful for Cody's "communication skills."
Mrs. Washington stayed just a few minutes longer. She wrote furiously on her clipboard. Then she stood up, straightened herself and smiled with a satisfied grin. She gave me a warm smile, winked, and left through the door.
I have no idea if Mrs. Washington realized what was really going on. I have no idea if she realized Cody’s quick thinking and talking had saved the day. All I know is I was eternally grateful to Cody, and vowed never to get mad at him for lying- ever again.
Observations are stressful and tough. If ever you don’t have a good plan, I hope you have a Cody.