My sixth-grade class milled about noisily in the back of the room, whispering and giggling. None of us were eager for the start of our afternoon classes. Sister stood leaning against the teacher’s desk in front of the room watching us. She finally barked impatiently, “Recess is over, class. Sit down and be quiet!” I knew that tone of voice and instantly obeyed, as did most of the class. True to form, the last students to sit down and be quiet were two boys. As long as I’d known them, since first grade, they stood out as incapable of being quiet or of staying seated for more than a few minutes.
Waiting until the only sound in the room was the occasional clank of the heat registers, Sister picked up a paper from her desk and slowly walked back and forth in the front of the room, grilling the class. “What is the first thing you do when you begin an assignment?”
One student volunteered, “Put on our thinking caps?”
Sisters black veil swished back and forth as she emphatically shook her head and tossed out hints, “We ask you to do it at the top of the page, along with the date. It’s one of the first things you were taught to do in first grade. It helps your teacher grade papers.”