Day 121

Prompt: teaching.


I shake off the cold, brushing snow from my jacket before unlocking the classroom. It’s cold inside, the heat not yet turned on for the school. Saves them money to keep it cold at night.

The handle to my office makes me want to put my gloves back on, the small room an ice box as I put my bag down. I sit down at my desk, turning the desktop on and pulling out my binder of lesson plans. While the desktop chugs through its boot cycle, I double-check the copies for first hour, checking for any mistakes and separating them into neat stacks of four, one for each quad of desks.

I wait for my files from home to sync before pulling open the lesson plan document. I check for any errors before sending it to my tablet. I used to teach from paper lesson plans, but I’ve gone digital as much as I can in the last few months. Satisfied, I head back into the classroom and turn on the desktop there. I check the clock while it whirs to life. 7:20. Ten minutes left.

The flipchart slides finish loading as the door bursts open.


I chuckle. “Good morning, Zach.”

“Hi, Miss Hellewege. How are you this morning?”

“Better now that there’s Bowie. Where’s your posse?”

“Connor has to drop off his stuff in the robotics lab and J-”

Before he can finish the sentence, the door bursts open once more.


“It’s a Bowie sort of day, I see. Are you all excited for the quiz?”

“Miss Hellewege, you say these things, and I know you’re messing with us. Why would anyone be happy about a quiz?”

“What Zach said,” Connor adds.

“I’m excited, Miss Hellewege,” Jason says, hoisting his bag on his desk. “I’m excited to faaaaaaaail.”

“You’re not going to fail,” I tell him, laughing.

“You don’t know that. Don’t assume his grade status, Miss Hellewege,” Connor says, sitting on his desk.

“It’s my job to know his grade status.”

“But this is a future grade,” Zach retorts.

“True,” I tell him. “But I can usually predict scores within 10%.”

Connor gasps. “What?! How?!”

“Statistics based on your past performance mostly.”

“If you predict a score higher than I get, can I have that score instead?” Zach asks.

“I’ll think about it.”

“Thanks, Miss Hellewege.”

“It’s going to be a no, Zach,” Connor says, shaking his head.

“I know, but I appreciate the hope.”

“Why are your quizzes so hard?” Connor asks me.

“They’re dual-purpose. Test your understanding of physics, yes, but also I was told that struggling builds character. I want you to leave my class with a rich tapestry of character.”

“Miss Hellewege. That’s not funny.”

“I THINK IT’S FUNNY!” Jason exclaims, now laying on the floor.

“Are you okay?” I ask him.

“I’m just living life at its lowest down here.”

“Is that an elevation pun or is something wrong?”

He mulls it over for a second. “I mean, it’s 98% a pun, but yeah this quiz has me feeling a certain way.”

“Excited, right?”

“YES. Excited.”

I laugh as more students come in, pulling out their books and asking questions. Teaching is hard, but no one can ever say it’s boring.


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