Today, one of my favorite students surprised me by getting the highest test score in her class. She's a good student of English. She has a good ear and likes to use it. But this test focused on grammar, something about which she is totally indifferent. She learns it, but only because she can't really avoid it. She tends to pass tests, occasionally not, but ranges closer to 80% for the most part.
The student in the class who usually gets the highest marks was horrified. He couldn't understand how she beat him. I couldn't either, to tell the truth. She's not the type to cheat, and in any case I had arranged the seats in three rows, so it would have been difficult to do. She would have scored significantly lower if she copied from the guy in front of her.
"Did you study?" I asked her.
"No," she said. "I'm very smart."
That was an odd response. She usually says, "You're very smart," sarcastically, whenever anyone does anything she considers stupid. I decided to follow up.
My daughter gave me a little keychain flashlight. I remembered the old movies where cops shined a light in people's eyes and tried to get a confession. I shined the ridiculous little light in her eyes and asked, "Well, how did you do it?"
A student stood up. He said, "No, mister, not like that. You have to do good, bad." He meant good cop, bad cop. I asked him what he wanted to be and he said good. I said okay and took a tougher tone, shining the light again.
"OK, spill it! How did you do it?"
The boy sat down and said, calmly and quietly, with a smile, "Listen, don't worry. Nothing's going to happen. Everything will be fine. Just tell us the truth."
We continued along this line for a few minutes. We learned nothing whatsoever. The girl wouldn't talk. However, she laughed an awful lot.
We will save this good cop, bad cop routine for the next time we need to conduct another serious investigation.
Views expressed herein are solely those of the author or authors, and do not reflect views of my employers, the United Federation of Teachers, the MORE Caucus or any other union caucus.
Stories herein containing unnamed or invented characters are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.