Saturday, July 15, 2006

Semesters of Our Lives Chapter 12

The Principal Observes a Class

Mr. Jacobs, social studies AP, and Ms. Robinson, working teacher and apprentice AP, entered Ms. Mudd’s classroom via the back door five minutes into the lesson. Ms. Mudd, on the advice of Mr. Jacobs, had taken the new methodology to heart.

The students were working in groups, as suggested by the chancellor, and Ms. Mudd was circulating around the room, answering questions and offering advice to students.

This went on for about five minutes. The observers sat quietly scribbling notes. Suddenly, the principal and Seymour, assistant principal of organization, entered via the front door.

“How is everyone today?” asked the principal. “What are you all learning here today?”

All activity ceased and the students sat mute.

“Come on, someone needs to speak up. Your teacher’s job could be on the line here, you know.”

Ms. Mudd turned pale.

A female student began to explain, but the principal interrupted. “Ms. Mudd, do you have a lesson plan?”

Ms Mudd stammered, “Of course I do.”

“I want to see it,” demanded the principal.

Ms. Mudd went to her desk and recovered her notebook, then handed it to the principal. The principal glanced at it, then to the floor, then examined the floor more closely and asked, “Why is all this paper on the floor? How can anyone learn in this environment?”

He walked to the front of the room and picked up the trashcan. He handed it to a student and said, “This is unacceptable. Please pass this around the room, and drop any papers you find into it. “ He then dropped the notebook on Ms. Mudd’s desk and said, “This classroom is a disaster. Don’t you agree, Seymour?”

Seymour adjusted his tie, and nodded his head. “Oh yes, sir, absolutely.”

The principal then looked at a desk, which was covered with graffiti.

“Seymour, please go get a couple of buckets, some soapy water, and some sponges.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Seymour, and quickly ran down the hall to the custodian’s office.

When Seymour returned, the principal instructed several students to start cleaning the desks. They refused.

“Ms. Mudd,” began the principal, “is this how you teach your students to obey? I’m very disappointed at your lack of control.”

Ms. Mudd fought back tears as best she could.

The principal walked out of the room, with Seymour following closely behind him.

Mr. Jacobs and Ms. Robinson followed.

“Well, Mr. Jacobs,” the principal asked, “What did you think of that lesson?”

Mr. Jacobs was flabbergasted. “The lesson…did you even see the…”

“I’d like you to write it up as unsatisfactory,” said the principal.

“But, you didn’t see anything. She was… "

The principal gave Mr. Jacobs the look he’d been practicing. “Are you refusing to follow instructions?” he asked.

“I’m not refusing,” Mr. Jacobs replied. “It’s just…”

“Make a note, Seymour. Mr. Jacobs is refusing a direct order. That’s insubordination, isn’t it, Seymour?”

“Yes, sir. Refusing a direct order is insubordination. I’m shocked and stunned.”

“Well, Seymour, make a note of it. We can’t have that here. No wonder those kids are behaving so poorly. I made a simple request, and they refused. And how dare that girl interrupt me when I’m asking questions?”

Mr. Jacobs and Ms. Robinson just stood there, speechless.

Next Week: The Observations Continue
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