Sometimes I wonder if there is some type of magic potion or elixir that I transport into a classroom. Because I can’t identify or quantify it, I can only observe its effects.

The downside is that the mixture results in the difficult students becoming more difficult. They will ignore, insult or try to intimidate, regardless of the consequences. This applies for all of the potential outcomes, immediate or promised.

As near as I can figure, the presence of a substitute will create more noise, disrespect and an inability to sit still. All of this has little or nothing to do with me, as it’s only because of this magic invisible formula I transport into the class.

On the other side of the magic is the best friend syndrome. Suddenly, I have a gaggle of girls (rarely, but occasionally boys) who want to know everything and anything about me.

How many kids to you have? How old are they and what are their names? What are the titles of your books? Where did you get your phone? How much did it cost? Where did you go to school? What is your husband’s name?

Add to this the need to sit close to me, the requirement to hold my hand and the request to join me for lunch. Keep in mind that these children are all in the same square feet, my classroom. We can finish the image with the addition of this: “Is it raining tacos,” “Do you know who Mohammed Ali is,” and “Am I on the good list or the bad list?” The best ones are “You need a hug” and “Are you coming back tomorrow?”

The magic potion situation is a daily phenomenon, except when I revisit a class. In that case, a different form of wizardry will manifest itself. Instead, the hugs are voluntary, the negative behavior is absent and I’m unlikely to raise my voice.

If I knew how to access this compound and bottle it, I could do phenomenal things in the world. My preference is to reproduce the good outcomes, sprinkling some of my fairy dust into traffic, the grocery store lines and anywhere else that people squabble.  In the meantime, however, I’ll just assume that displaying positive behavior will suffice. Shalom.

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