“Snape, Snape, Severus Snape. Snape, Snape, Severus Snape.”
The chanting, accompanied by steady tapping, was barely audible over the hum of my students doing their algebra worksheets. But my supersonic teacher hearing always alerted me to anything constituting a disruption. I needed to nip this in the bud before the whole class got involved.
“No Harry Potter Puppet Pals,” I reminded the class sternly. I heard some boyish giggling before the students settled back into a productive-sounding hum.
It was Friday, the last class of the day, and we were all ready for the weekend. But school time was school time.
I turned my attention back to the pile of worksheets on my desk. For the weekend, my plans already involved taking the dog to the vet (he had a suspicious lump), singing a solo at church, and cleaning up the house for my in-laws’ quarterly visit. I didn’t want to bring home grading, too.
The noise level rose. I glanced at the clock. Twenty minutes before afternoon announcements. “Settle down,” I called out. The volume dropped slightly, but I could tell that many of the students were off-task. Lord, just get me through the next few minutes, I prayed. I stretched my neck and went back to grading.
A minute later, I heard the tapping start. I ignored it and raced through the worksheets, hoping I didn’t mark anything incorrectly. Then I heard the chanting again, quieter this time. “Snape, Snape, Severus Snape. Dumbledore!”
“Cut it out!” I stood up to glare at the offenders. Brandon and Chad were my “energetic” students, to put it nicely. Apparently, it had been a bad idea to let them sit near each other today.
“But Mrs. Corley, it’s fun!” Brandon gave me his angelic smile. He knew it wouldn’t work on me, but he used it habitually.
“Go back to your regular seat, Chad,” I said. “The two of you need to work on your own.”
“Please can we have another chance?”
Chad gathered his things and trudged back to his desk. Brandon put his head down in protest. I hoped he would stay like that. He could finish his worksheet at home.
No such luck. Within a minute, I heard Brandon talking loudly to another student. I graded papers. Fifteen minutes until the bell. The noise level rose again. Then I heard the tapping. I squeezed my eyes shut. Maybe I could pretend I was deaf. “Snape, Snape, Severus Snape.” Only a few papers left to grade. Maybe I could get through the next few minutes before I snapped.
“DUMBLEDORE!” Brandon jumped up and flung his arms out. The class burst out laughing.
I threw my pen down. “Brandon! In the hall! Now!”
He slouched to the door, pouting. The rest of the class got quiet and watched me warily. “I don’t want to hear a sound from you,” I told them.
In the hall, Brandon slumped against the wall. I sighed loudly. “Well? Do you have anything to say for yourself?”
I was about to lay into him, tell him just how much trouble he was, when a Bible verse came to mind. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”* Suddenly, as if someone had dropped a lens over my eyes, I saw this boy as God saw him—a unique, special person, carefully created. He had good and bad points. He deserved love.
To my horror, I felt a lump form in my throat. I hated to lose control of my emotions in front of students. “I just don’t know what to do with you, Brandon,” I said finally. My voice came out oddly. I swiped a tear from my eye.
Brandon looked at me in alarm. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Corley! I really am!”
I took a few deep breaths. “No more Harry Potter Puppet Pals. I mean it.”
“No, I promise.”
“And just…try not to draw attention to yourself.”
He nodded, but I had little hope that he knew how to avoid that. I waved him back into the classroom.
We had another group activity the following Tuesday. After fifteen minutes, I heard a steady tapping noise. Then a quiet voice: “Snape, Snape, Severus Snape.”
I stood up, about to give Chad a piece of my mind. To my surprise, Brandon smacked him in the back of the head. “Shut up!” he said.
“Mrs. Corley!” Chad whined. “Brandon hit me!”
I just smiled.
*Psalm 139:14 KJV
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