Thursday, June 01, 2006


Ms. Goodrich’s office was the size of a large closet. It had a glass wall that separated it from the department office. On her desk were several photos of herself in running competitions. Perhaps that accounted for her cadaverous appearance. Why her teeth were like that Richard couldn’t even guess. He’d heard teachers had dental insurance.

He sat down in the ancient wooden chair in front of her desk

“Mr. Carter,” asked Ms. Goodrich, removing her reading glasses. “Have you taught before?”

“No, never.”

“Well, that’s OK.” She held up a finger for emphasis. “But you’re going to have to learn to make a lesson plan.”


“The first thing you need is an instructional objective. We call it an I.O. That will say what you expect the kids to be able to do by the end of the lesson. For example, kids will understand Ethan Frome’s motivation. Do you understand?”

“So far.”

“Then, you need an aim. The aim should be phrased as a question, like why did Ethan do what he did, and you must write the aim on the board every day. Can you do that?”

“I think so. What’s the difference between the I.O. and the aim?”

“Well, the I.O. is on your plan, and the aim is on the board.”

“Oh, okay.” Richard decided not to press the point.

“After you do the aim and the I.O., you need a motivation. It should be something sexy. You might ask about Brigette Bardot, for example. You’re cute, Richard. May I call you Richard?”

“Um, sure, go ahead.”

“You know, I had a rough weekend.” Ms. Goodrich began to wearily rub her eyes. “I was making meatballs.”


“Yes. My parents came over, and you know how that can be. So I had to make a lot of meatballs, and what do you think happened?”

“I don’t know.”

“They didn’t appreciate it at all. Not one bit. And I had to leave Michael at my friend’s house before they got here.”

“Who’s Michael?” asked Richard.

“Oh it’s a long story,” she replied. “He was one of my students. He used to wear a t-shirt every day. One day I said to him ‘Oh, how nice of you to wear a clean t-shirt,’ and then I realized it—he didn’t own any other shirts. I was so embarrassed. Anyway, he lives with me now.”

Richard couldn’t think of anything to say.

“You understand, don’t you? Because my parents wouldn’t. They didn’t even appreciate my meatballs. Don’t tell the principal. Do you like meatballs, Richard?”

The bell rang.

“Enjoy your first class,” said Ms. Goodrich, replacing her reading glasses as Richard sprinted into the hall.
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