Friday, December 23, 2011

The [ ] Memorial Dollar

I was cleaning off my desk for the holiday (which mostly meant making different piles from pre-existing ones) and I came across a dollar bill. This is what it looked like:

Now you, the reader, probably don't see that this is an unusual dollar. It certainly doesn't look different from any other dollar, but trust me it is. This dollar is a lesson. This dollar is an honorific reminder to my students. It even has a name: The [ ] Memorial Dollar Bill. It joins the { } Memorial Chair Rule and the <> Memorial Mouth Guard. The [ ], {} and <> each refer to the students for whom these things are named (and whose names I will not use here, although within my school they and the things for which they're named are well known).

The [ ] Dollar Bill has its origins in a bet. During class one day a while ago, I wanted to do an activity that required a packet I had handed out a couple of days earlier. I asked the students to take this packet out while I prepped the rest of the activity. When I turned around, [ ]'s desk was still devoid of packetage. I raised my eyebrows (the class-recognized symbol for wtf) and she said, "You didn't give me one."

"Yes, I did."


"Yes-huh." (I can talk at that level, too).


We might have continued this highly literate lexical stalemate for some time (and on many days, I'm happy to go there), but I had a plan and time was running tight.

"Where's your binder?" (all my students are required to have a binder for the materials they receive).

Her binder, one of the 5-subject kinds, was full to bursting with papers from all her academic classes. She hefted it up onto her desk and folded her arms across her chest.

"It's not in there. I checked. Twice."

My internal dialog started off with a stream of "Oh, no you di'int" comments, but I decided this learning opportunity required a different approach.

"What do you want to bet that it's in there?"

She thought for a moment. "$10."

"You don't have $10."

"I have $1."

"You wanna put that $1 up against my $1 that I won't find your packet in this binder?"

"It's not there. You won't find it."

I opened her binder. It took exactly 17 seconds.

*rummage, rummage...* "Here it is."

I handed the packet to her, then went on to teach the class.

I found the dollar bill you see above sitting on my desk when I came back from lunch.

I'll keep the [ ] Dollar Bill in my desk. I'm sure it'll be useful the next time a student says, "You didn't give me one." And there will be a next time. Certain things are predictable like that.

1 comment:

Mrs. Chili said...

LOVE. THIS. STORY. And I can totally see you doing a "nuh-uh / yes-huh" standoff...