"She said someone was giving her the answers during the test,” the mother of one of my students announced during an official school meeting.
I remember feeling my brows slowly rise, my eyes open just a bit wider, and then sitting up straight. Maybe I didn’t hear that right, I thought to myself.
“She said someone gave her the answers?” I asked calmly.
My mind frantically flashed through memories of that testing day. It took me a minute, but I remembered that she was sitting alone. She wasn’t near anyone. I was sure of it. In fact, this student was sitting away from the rest of the class on purpose. She requested to sit alone. Sitting by other students to take a test made her nervous.
I sat calmly. Without fully noticing, my head began negating in tiny shifts and I waited patiently for another moment to respond.
“Yes,” the mother grinned. She didn't look directly at me. She didn’t seem upset or concerned or… anything. It was like she was sharing a story―a sweet story. The only problem was that I didn’t see anything sweet about it. I started to enter into a small panic. No one else sat by this student. It must be some kind of mistake. How do I explain this to the parent?
The parent paused.
I began to speak. “She… she was sitting alone while she took the test. Each student had a different test, so… it isn’t possible…” Again, I noticed the calmness of this parent. I didn’t quite understand why she seemed so relaxed about sharing this serious information, this terrible accusation.
“She said her friend gave her all of the answers,” the mother continued.
“Her friend?” I respond.
“She said you sat her friend next to her… her friend was a plant,” the mother finally spills into laughter.
My mind flashed to that testing day. I remembered taking a small plant and placing it beside her to help calm her nerves. I said to her, “This little plant will be here with you, so you won’t be alone. Look at how high its little leaves are… its little leaves are cheering for you,” I whispered to make her smile. I did. I wanted to make her smile and take away some of her test anxiety. After practicing some deep breaths together, she smiled again, and I walked away.
“She has this notebook and she has all of these stories about this plant… She gave it a name and everything!” her mother shared.
When I walked out of that conference room, my heart was filled. Hearing about the stories this student had been collecting in her notebook, hearing about her live like a writer... pure joy.