These Thomas High kids don’t complain about their homework

26 Apr

Mary Heveron-Smith, a teacher colleague of mine at Webster Thomas, told me a funny story the other day which I just had to pass along.

It was the day before Spring Break, and Mary was working late at school, finishing up some last-minute tasks before leaving for a week’s vacation in Tennessee. They included collecting her students’ writing folders so she could grade papers while they drove (do teachers EVER take real vacations?) and posting the following week’s vocabulary homework onto her classroom website.  When everything was packed up, posted and ready to go, she and her husband headed off for a much-anticipated visit with their son and daughter-in-law.

Jump ahead to the Monday after break. Mary’s AP Language students were settled into their seats. Standing at the front of the classroom, Mary started discussing the vocabulary words she had posted, which her students were to have worked on over break.

But the lesson came to a halt when one of her most soft-spoken students interrupted, and said almost inaudibly from the front row, “You didn’t post vocabulary. You posted a cookie recipe.”

In her haste that Thursday afternoon before break, Mary had mistakenly posted not a vocabulary lesson, but a recipe for chocolate-orange cookies which was located right next to it in her computer directory.

“I was mortified,” Mary said, “completely embarrassed that I had posted a recipe instead of their homework.”

But she didn’t have anything to worry about. It became immediately clear that her students had taken her goof in stride, when one of them revealed a batch of chocolate-orange cookies she had made the night before. Five more students in her next two classes had also done their “homework” and presented Mary with plates filled with chocolate-orange cookies.

“I couldn’t believe what I’d done,” she  said, “but I loved my students for having a sense of humor about it.”

She added,

I am impressed that some students figured, well, when in doubt, just bake. And I was equally impressed with their baking skills. This recipe even called for orange zest, a step that puts this recipe out of the league of beginning bakers. Students improvised, using whatever did the job — substituting cheese graters for zesters and Clementine rinds for orange rinds! The cookies all tasted delicious and looked just elegant, with threads of orange running through the dark chocolate. All in all, this made for a wonderfully fun first day back for me.”

Naturally, the student bakers all suggested they receive extra credit for their efforts, something which Mary says she’s “mulling over.”

I am TOTALLY jealous that I never had a teacher who assigned cookies for homework.

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