Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Bluff?

It's Thursday at the continuation high school--buyout day.  Ah, the power!

(If the student can get all his/her teachers to sign the buyout, he/she is excused from school on Friday.  It's a lovely motivation tool.)

It was 6th period.  I told the students that I would only sign buyouts for those that were doing some work.  This was the only group that actually needed the warning as the other classes were doing what they were supposed to be doing (answering questions about Twelve Angry Men  which they had just finished reading).

I went through the stack about 15 minutes before the end of the period.  Only two buyouts were for students who appeared to be goofing off, so I signed the rest and waited.  Once I collected their work, I looked for the papers of the two questionable students.  Neither had turned anything in.

The bell rang, and the classroom emptied.  One student informed me that he did not have a pencil so he could not do the assignment.  He had the entire period to acquire one (from another student, from a neighboring teacher, from the office, etc.).  The second student told me that he had turned in his work to me.

First I went through the stack of student papers a second time.  Then I went through the stack of questions.  I turned over everything on the desk.  I gave the stack of papers to the student to look through.  I glanced around the rest of the classroom.  His paper was nowhere to be found.  He continued to claim that he had turned his paper in to me--he had in fact handed it to me--but I did not recall this, and I had no paper with his name on it.

Earlier in the period he also did not have a writing utensil.  He managed to half-borrow one from another student (this student was doing no work, so the two boys agreed to share the pen, each using the pen for half the period).  But neither appeared to actually have anything on their pages, so the sharing thing was only a gimmick.

Basically, I thought the boy was bluffing.  He probably did hand me something, and then he probably expected that I'd remember that and not look for proof of work.  Perhaps he thought I'd think that I just lost his paper.  But I'm pretty good at keeping track of stuff.  And the whole the-sub-lost-my-work doesn't generally work on/with me.

So, I did not sign his buyout.  I was careful, though.  I did not accuse him of lying to me.  I could have lost his assignment, but I rather doubt it.  I think that once he started his bluff, there was no way that he could back down, so he played it until the end.  

Although, if he was telling the truth, I'm going to feel horrible about this.

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