“Mrs. Jones, could these four fine students sit in your room to finish their test?”
Mr. Ableman, a 6th grade English teacher, stood in my doorway with four students huddled behind him.
“They had to get their vision checked during class and now they need some extra time to finish their test. I’ve got a meeting I’m supposed to be at. Would it be OK if they finished in your room?”
It was my planning period, and I knew it would be quiet. “Sure. Send them in.”
The kids spread out at different desks, sat down, and immediately bent their heads over their tests. After about ten minutes, three of them brought their completed tests to my desk and left. Across the room Jeffery slumped forward, staring at the bulletin board in front of him.
“Everything OK Jeffery?” I called.
Jeffery inhaled deeply, let it out, and then moaned weakly, “Yeeeaaah.”
I went back to my work, but soon felt someone staring at me and looked up. Jeffery was standing in front of my desk.
He held up his test and pointed to the heading. “This test is over Chapters 17 to 24. I haven’t read them.”
“I was at the dentist last week.”
“You were only gone one class period, and you’ve had almost a week to read the chapters. You could have read them over the weekend.”
“I was really busy this weekend. And I couldn’t read them anyway.”
“I lost my book.”
“I don’t know. A couple weeks ago.”
“Well, how have you been reading the novel in class if you lost your book?”
“Abby let’s me look on her book when we’re reading in class.”
I gave Jeffery a sad, sympathetic look and said, “You’re just going to have to do the best you can.”
“But I don’t know the answers,” Jeffery moaned.
I leaned forward, smiling, and whispered, “Do you want me to give you the answers?”
His eyes widened. “Will you do that?”
I widened my eyes and leaned in closer. “Do you have any money?”
Jeffery’s mouth dropped open, and he froze for a minute. Then he began to grin. “You’re kidding me aren’t you Mrs. Jones?”
“Yes, I am. Now Jeffery, you’re just going to have to do the best you can. You can bring me your test when you’re done.”
He turned around, and schlumped back to his desk. I went back to my work, but after a few minutes, I felt like someone was watching me again. It was Jeffery. He was still sitting at his desk, but he had turned sideways in his chair so that his whole body faced me. He was staring at me. Waiting.
When he saw me finally look up at him, he held both arms out in front, palms up. In a low, chesty voice punctuating his words with downward pumps of his arms he said, “I JUST. don’t KNOW. the ANswers!”