Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Birthday surprises!

at Two Writing Teachers!
Yesterday morning on the way to school, I spent most of the drive wondering if anybody would remember that it was my birthday.  Yes, the secretary sends out a list of staff birthdays each month, but since I usually glance at them and promptly forget, I figured other people probably do the same.

I shouldn't have worried!

First, I walked up to my classroom to find birthday decorations outside my door!  I thought they were from my fellow ELL teacher (with whom I share the room), but she claimed they were already there when she got to school.
must have been from my secret pal!
Another handmade sign adorned the front chalkboard, and TWO bright presents (one from my secret pal and one from my ELL colleague) stood cheerily on my desk.  While I love presents, I think I loved the signs and balloons even more, because they let everyone know it was my birthday.  All day long, students and staff members greeted me with "Happy Birthday!"  However, the biggest surprise was still to come.

This morning, several of my students were acting a little silly and secretive.  Chart paper in hand, claiming they were "working on a project" (while refusing to offer more details), they asked to visit other teachers, begged me to let them pull individual students out in the hallway for a few minutes at a time, and huddled around something in the hallway between classes.  Were they making something for Teacher Appreciation Day, perhaps?  Not wanting to ruin what was obviously some kind of surprise for someone, I tried not to get too nosy.

By the time lunch ended, I had forgotten all about it... until I got back to my classroom.  As soon as I walked in and set my lunch box on my desk, my colleague dragged me back out. "We have to go to the office," she claimed, but I saw a few of my girls forming a busy hive in the corner front of the room.  Sure enough, the principal who supposedly needed us was nowhere to be found when we arrived at the office.

Under any other circumstances, I would have panicked at being in the hallway when the bell rang, imagining chaos in my classroom, but by now I knew what was going on.  As we approached the room, one of my girls came running out to catch me.
"Can I talk to you, alone?"
Stifling a grin, I tried to put on a concerned face.  "Of course!  What's wrong?"
"Well, I just have a lot of problems, and I um, I have a C in your class and I was wondering what I can do, and..."  Her words tripped over themselves and turned into giggles.
"You're not a very good actress!"

After a couple minutes of checking her phone obsessively, she finally let me walk back toward the classroom.  The blinds by the door were closed, and the lights were obviously off.

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!"  The wavering glow of candles from a bright pink cake lit up my students' faces in the center of the room.  Behind them, on the chalkboard, hung a huge banner made out of chart paper:

Amidst a sea of cellphones taking pictures, I took a deep breath, made the obligatory wish, and blew out the candles.  When I opened my eyes again, I realized that some of my students from other periods were even there!  "Your teachers know you guys are here, right?"
"Yeah, you just have to give us a pass back to class."

"LA MORDIDA!  LA MORDIDA!" My Mexican students started chanting and holding the cake up to my face.  I tried to protest: "I don't know guys, at school? Besides, the cake is so pretty!"  However, I couldn't resist their pleading faces.  Cautiously bringing my mouth down toward the corner of the cake, I opened wide and took a bite. To the gleeful giggles of the rest of the class, the boy holding the cake tipped the tray up to make sure my nose and face got decorated with plenty of icing.

"Let's take a class picture!"
"Come read the poster!"
"I want a picture with you!"
"Put on the song!  Put on the song!"  (They had even tricked me into writing down my favorite song, under the pretense of a survey for history class.)
"Now just me and Mrs. M!"
"You should have told us on Friday that Monday was your birthday!  We would've had this done yesterday!"

so sweet!
And finally, with mouths full of cake and pop: "So what are we going to do today?"


  1. Just when you think no one remembers, you get all sorts of surprises! Happy Birthday Jennifer! What a sweet surprise from a bunch of kids who are grateful that you are their teacher. That's the way to celebrate a birthday!

  2. Happy Birthday. Thank you for sharing your present. Your story was very full of suspense.

  3. Happy Birthday, Jennifer! Did they make it Teacher Appreciation Day just for you, too? What a happy, happy day! Your kids are just awesome, so thoughtful. I'm not surprised!

    1. Yes! I always feel like Teacher Appreciation Day was scheduled just for me! :-)

  4. What a great celebration for you! You deserve it.

  5. A belated happy birthday to you, Jennifer! May 7th is also my son's special day. Your students rock, the investment you made in building relationships shows!


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