Growing up, the rule was that all April Fool’s pranks had to be played before noon. I don’t know who made that rule. My mom? Some teachers? I just thought everybody knew that.
April 1, 2016 saw me in a different school than I’d been in the year before. I’d enforced the April Fool’s Rule there, but I hadn’t said anything to my 6th graders about behavioral expectations for any pranks they might be thinking about playing.
Apparently there was no need to worry. The only thing someone did was change the date I;d written on the board from Friday, April 1, 2016 to Friday, April 2, 2016. Sheesh, these guys were lame!
It brought me back to grade 7. My teacher that year was my least favorite then, and now. Mrs. Moore just seemed to have no rapport with us, I wonder now, if she chose to teach at our school or if she’d been moved there. She wasn’t a bad teacher, even though we called her “Massah Moore” after the evil plantation owner in Roots which had aired earlier that year. Mostly, she just seemed distant. So, when Craig Pestell convinced our class to play an April Fool’s prank as a whole class,we thought we’d be OK.
We started every morning with opening exercises that involved singing O Canada, among other things. Mrs. Moore would blow the note on her pitch-pipe and we’d start singing. Craig talked the class into singing a new song. When the note was blown, we’d all begin with the initial “O” of O Canada, then transition the “O” smoothly into “Old” and sing Old Macdonald had a farm, instead.
I remember being excited as we stood for opening exercises and it all came off without a hitch. Except we hadn’t anticipated Mrs Moore’s reaction. She was livid. She yelled at us like I’ve never seen anyone get angry at a whole class. She called us disrespectful and rude. Our innocent fun had flopped terribly.
Then, as now, I think her reaction was unwarranted. If she had chuckled, rolled her eyes and said “Very funny. Now, let’s do it the right way!”, I probably wouldn’t remember this April Fool’s Day almost 40 years later. But she didn’t. She made us feel small. I’d like to think that if my students were to play this prank on me I’d be a better sport than Mrs Moore, who drove the wedge between herself and her students a little deeper that day.