This is an installment of the Stories Teachers Share podcast. Listen above or on iTunes to hear how the story unfolds.
April Fool's Day pranks at school are often the projects of students who are looking to have a good time and impress their friends. At World Language High School in Chicago, teachers Al Julius and Alex Fernandez had some ideas of their own to ring in April Fool's Day a couple of years ago. The joke started when Mr. Julius hid Mr. Fernandez's laptop from him. Moments before Mr. Fernandez came into class looking for his laptop, Mr. Julius asked his students to be in on the joke and stay silent while he denied having the laptop.
The joke ultimately escalated into one teacher getting handcuffed by a police officer in front of the students. Years after the incident, students talk about that prank as one of the highlights of their school lives. The joke also had the side effect of creating special bonds at school.
One student named Ashley recalled how she broke the news about the prank to her mom as soon as she got home. "I said, 'oh my god, mom, you’re not going to believe what our teacher did,'" said Ashley. "And I told her and she was like 'oh wow.' She didn’t believe that a teacher could do that because she thought teachers were very professional. But Mr. Julius and Mr. Fernandez have that energy and they have that personality that just comes out and you're like, 'oh, we could actually get along with this teacher.'"
The social bonds kids develop with friends and teachers can be just important as academic achievements. By creating a joke that included students, Mr. Fernandez and Mr. Julius established themselves as legendary pranksters and set the tone for students who were still getting acquainted with one another.
"[The prank] made me get to know my teacher a lot better," said one student named Camilo. "It was a good feeling that we were all getting along after that day. We were just friendly overall. It was a good thing to happen."