Consider this your friendly PSA: April Fools Day is TOMORROW.
If you are a teacher, you’ll need to be on your guard against little pranks ALL day – switching seats, rearranging your desk, hiding all the dry erase markers are common ones – BUT, even better, be ready with a few tricks up your own sleeve!!
Of course, classroom pranks only work if you already have a good relationship with the kids and you know them well enough to make it fun and not offensive; but, I think April Fools Day is a great time to “be human” with your students and show them that you have a little sense of humor. (Plus, believe it or not, they will probably respect you even more if you can pull off a joke on them.)
Here are three ideas (no “pop quizzes” or “brown Es”) to try tomorrow:
1. Mock Assignment
This one would be pretty easy to prepare for and doesn’t require much “help” from outside sources… Simply begin class by expressing how incredibly disappointed (and angry if you want to go that route) you were with the number of students that blew off the major assignment you had been discussing and prepping them for for weeks. Make a big deal about how it had been posted in multiple places and what a BIG portion of their grade the assignment made up. For added effect, plan ahead by printing out a few sheets of paper that say something like “This is an April Fool’s Joke, please play along” and “return” them to a very small portion of the class (maybe 4 or 5 students). Allow the students to get very worked up about “not knowing” about the assignment, and pull out all your best “teacher lines” – i.e. “failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part” – and stand your ground. Once the class is sufficiently mad and worried, direct them to a “mock assignment” on Blackboard (or wherever you post things like that) that, when opened, reads APRIL FOOLS. 😉
2. Dummy Discipline
I used to do something like this as an introduction to one of my units (I can’t even remember which one now) and the students always got such a kick out of it. In short, you simply turn into that teacher for the day – you know, the one that gets mad at EVERYONE and starts sending people to the office for every tiny little offense. (I think this goes without saying, but this really only works if you aren’t usually that teacher. If you are, well, maybe try a day of not doing that.) Have a stack of detention slips at the front of the room and start handing them out one by one for the MOST minor infractions (think: sneezing when the class is supposed to be quiet, whispering to the person next to them, being one second late to class, etc.). The slips themselves should be filled out as normal, but somewhere on it write “APRIL FOOLS – play along and wait for us in the hall/cafeteria/library/courtyard.” In between discipline referrals, go about your teaching completely normally – like nothing is wrong. The kids will get SO mad – just watch – but you MUST keep a straight face. If they ask what is wrong with you, just say “I’ve reached my breaking point with you all.” (If you have a late spring break like us, this should be pretty darn believable for this time of year.) Once you are down to the last one or two kids left in the room, say you will escort them yourself to the front office, and leave together to re-join the rest of the class. If all goes as planned, they will “forgive” you and you’ll all have a good laugh together.
3. Fake Fight
This one is a little different because it doesn’t “prank” the students so much as simply shock and excite them. Basically, you’ll need your best acting face and a well-humored colleague or administrator. The two of you will plan ahead and stage a loud and over-the-top argument to take place in front of your classes on April Fools Day. This will work best if you have another teacher with whom you share lots of students OR an administrator that is well-known by the kids and willing to play along. The fight may start over a missing office-supply, a class running late, or one teacher’s class being too loud and disrupting the other. Make sure both teachers are equally “invested” in the fight and earn bonus points for crying real tears, slamming doors, having the Principal break it up, etc. Keep it going long enough to make the kids feel super awkward (and maybe send a few tweets – not that they would during school ;0) then come together as buddies again and announce that the joke is on them! 🙂 *This one is really fun, but good acting skills and a straight face are ESSENTIAL – otherwise, it’s just awkward for all of you.
Have another idea or something that’s worked on your classes in the past? Please share it in the comments!!!
P.S. If you try one of these, I’d LOVE to hear how it goes! Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know!