“Ohhhh, Ms S!”

I am not a cute teacher. Even though I’ve shifted from sixth grade to third, I don’t do cute things. I give my students a $4 book pick from book club for their birthdays, I read books they adore, but that’s about the limit of my cuteness. My room is not decorated in monkeys or tigers. At the beginning of the year, my class list is not a poster made up of die cuts, but a print out by my door. We don’t have classroom spirit colors, and I don’t bribe my students with candy, cookies, or stickers.

I do get to know my students, we build our classroom together, we joke, we have fun. But with my personality, my students are used to homework every Monday through Thursday, a “strict but funny” teacher (so they say) and few surprises—or at least few cute surprises.

My students have been taking the state tests for the first time. The entire testing time (even days they didn’t test), they’ve had no homework. That was enough to confuse them, but they embraced it.

They finished their four tests (taking five days total) yesterday. So as a team, the third grade teachers decided to surprise them with pizza.

We came in from recess and my students said, “Why does it smell like pizza in here?”

Then they spotted the pizzas on the back table and looked at me. I nodded at them. “If you’re wearing mostly black shoes, go wash your hands. I need someone to hand out napkins.”

One of my students turned and looked at me in shock. “Is this our end-of-the-year party?”

“No. You have done so well dealing with the state tests that all of the third grade teachers decided to order pizza as a surprise for you.”

Her whole body started to buzz. She ran to me and socked me with a huge hug. “Ohhhh, Ms S! Pizza! Pizza!” She looked up at me, while squeezing me really hard, “And no homework, cause it’s Friday, right?”

“Right, no homework. White shoes, go wash your hands.”

Another student screeched, “Will you read Knight’s Castle while we eat?”

“Sure.”

One of my boys stole a line from the book. “‘By my halidom!’ Today is awesome!”