He was looking down on the screen, I saw his face tickle and then I saw the blood rush to his face. I watched him for a little while. He was totally absorbed. He didn’t know that his entire body was quivering. Everybody in the group was busy with last minute prep for the upcoming presentation. He was in his own world.
In group work, mark had to be given for collaboration. This was a tricky one. How would you do that? All the work would be done by other team members and then the team would score for the work presented even though only few people did the work. If the salient group member came from an influential background, it didn’t matter that he didn’t do the work. The rest of the team would be too glad to have him on the team. I have always believed this to be so unfair and the most disadvantaged situation that candidates could be put in.
Messi, Hamdan, Tenni, Bryan and Noscot were all busy putting last minute finishing touches to the big map that would show the analysis of the poem they had been working on. Messi was working on the rich diagram of the characters, their unique elements. Hamdan was working on the language used by the poet. Tenni was working on the structure of the poem, how it added to the impact that the poem created. Bryan was working on the imageries in the poem and a personal response. Why was he working on two ideas together. Noscot was supposed to be working on that idea. He had been absent for the past couple of days. And when he came back, instead of concentrating on the task, he sat glued to his phone.
I touched him on the shoulder, he froze. He quickly passed the phone to his next mate and before you knew it the phone had travelled through so many hands and vanished.
It was an unwritten code that they never snitched on any mate of theirs. It was an unwritten code that when a phone is passed to you, you have to be an effective conduit to get that phone safely out of the sight of the teacher.
“I need that phone now” I declared.
“I don’t have any phone”. That creepy smile crept up his face.
“I need that phone” I held my ground.
“Teacher I don’t have the phone” Noscot declared again.
“Listen mate, you better extract that phone and let me have it before the count of five, otherwise…”
“Otherwise what will happen?” he chirped it.
That was an old trick they used on other teachers. That wouldn’t work with me. “I done pass that stage,” I told myself.
I needed to get that phone otherwise it would be a free fall for others.
“You couldn’t get a phone off Noscot because you know his family background” I could hear a student say.
“You want to get it off us because we are easy preys” I could hear another retort.
“I am not giving you the phone because you didn’t get it off Noscot, remember?” I heard that sarcastic voice sound to me.
These scenarios played right in front of me and I moved an inch away from Noscot.
“I know you value your education. I know you value your relationship with me. I know you value your grades and you don’t want to ruin that.”
He handed me an old phone.
“That’s not the phone. I need that red Samsung smart phone”.
By now the whole class had stopped to watch this drama unfold. He stood to lose face with his mates. I quickly thought, I have to give him an escape route.
“You hand me the phone, you get back to terms with me and we are on track. At the end of the lesson, you can have back your phone.”
“I don’t have the phone” he maintained his grounds.
By this time, he was over the other side where the phone had travelled to.
“By the countdown of five I want the phone in my palm. Five, four”
“Three” he hollered.
That same old trick he used the last time with Ms. Morgan. Ms. Morgan backed down and lost out. That would not work with me.
Three, I said.
“Two” he hollered.
Failed attempt I conjectured in my mind.
“Two” I counted.
Everybody was watching. That silly creepy grin widening on his face.
“One” he shouted.
“One” I said.
“Zero” I announced.
I stretched forth my palm – in expectation, in anticipation for that red Samsung phone to be stamped inside it.
He put his hand in his pocket and handed me the phone.
“You are back to terms with me. That is the smartest thing you have done”.
“I will have my phone back at the end of the lesson. Remember you said so and you are a man of your words.”
“Yes, Noscot, I am a man of my words. Now back to your work” I commanded him.
He took the marker pen and bent down to that blank sheet of paper that laid in front of him.
“I need to see your group’s personal response to the poem in your handwriting, otherwise you will not get the marks and you know what that means?”
“Yes Mr. Blue”.
Shock was written on everybody’face. I knew I had him where I wanted. You want to pass my course, you have to work for it. End of story!!