I got a call from the school’s front office. I haven’t fed the box.
Actually, to be exact, I haven’t fed the box the right pieces of paper. How did I know anyone would read the box?
The box is the storage bin for our lesson plans. These lesson plans take hours to create. They have to be aligned with state standards, and they have to have all manner of back-up lessons and self-evaluations. Keep in mind that we get only three free hours in a week.
The lesson plans are not for us, the teachers. They’re certainly not for the students. They are for inspectors from downtown, who in their turn pretty much ignore them. The only person who seems to care is our resident, in-house inspector, a guy appointed by downtown. We call him The Narc.
In truth, we have to write lessons for books we no longer teach. The district bought a curriculum, just a wretched thing that we all now ignore. During first semester, we’re supposed to read, for example, The Jungle and Emma to freshmen. We tried it once. I could take the snores, but the screams … so, we changed the curriculum. Of course, we can’t tell downtown that we’re now teaching To Kill A Mockingbird. So we write plans for lessons we don’t give.
Teachers just don’t take the box seriously. When he wrote his lesson plans, Mr. Gates used to write a paragraph or two, then insert, “If anyone is actually reading this, dial 555-3478 and I’ll give you $20.” The day he retired, Gates took out that $20 and paid for a round.
Last week, I just looked into my drawer, pulled out a bunch of old lesson plans — I was really going for poundage — xeroxed them and stuffed the box about two pounds worth. So I get a call today from The Narc, who says, 1) a few lesson plans were from classes I no longer teach, and 2) not just a few date from 2007.
My bad. I’ve made this mistake before. My bad that I should forget all this, and teach instead. Oh, yea, and I was complimented for doing a nice job teaching. But, first and foremost, I need to feed the box.
Thus it is that I’m doing lesson plans today. For this, I’ve sacrificed what I was going to do, which is to grade student essays.