Monday, October 29, 2007

the faculty meeting


PRINCIPAL HAYES stands at the front of the classroom as teachers and staff filter in through the doors at the back of the room. Roughly half of them pick up the agenda for this afternoon's faculty meeting that he has placed on a desk at the back of the room. Principal Hayes is a short man who often wears short-sleeved dress shirts and ties with cartoon characters on them. He says things like, "Hey, Billy, what's the good word?" and generally makes people feel uncomfortable. He hopes that people notice the Dilbert cartoon on the agenda, but they don't.

PRINCIPAL HAYES. Okay, if everyone could maybe have a seat, we can get started.

Ten minutes pass.

PRINCIPAL HAYES. Okay, seriously guys…

JEFF HOROWITZ, the social studies teacher and wrestling coach, whistles loudly.

JEFF. Everybody shut up!

PRINCIPAL HAYES. Thank you, Jeff. Okay, now that we're all here, we can get started. Let's start with a few celebrations. First, Todd, would you like to say a few words about the football team? Todd? Where's Todd?



COACH WILSON and his staff sit on dirty couches watching game tape and eating Fritos.



PRINCIPAL HAYES. Well, I'm sure he's somewhere important. Anyway, the football team has been doing a fine job this year. We're all quite proud. Secondly, as you all know, Beth Campbell is our Building Health Coordinator, and she wanted a couple of minutes to speak in that capacity.

BETH CAMPBELL, a massive physical education instructor – NOT a “gym teacher” – bounces to the front of the room to a chorus of groans. She speaks in a gruff, husky voice.

BETH. Okay, okay, I know I’m probably not the most popular person here right now, but—

RICK DAVIS. Why does the machine in the lounge only have diet pop?

BETH. Okay, now I knew that this would be an unpopular decision, but in the long run, I think—

KATE PHILLIPS. How come the candy machine only has sunflower seeds?

BETH. Again, if you’ll hear me out, I think you’ll agree that this is the best thing—

HENRY GOMEZ. Beth, why did we all get this memo about—

BETH. Alright, you know what, everyone? I didn’t take this job to make friends. I’m trying to keep you all from dying of heart disease when you’re 40, but if you want to stuff your fat faces with Snickers bars and Mountain Dew, go ahead. Just don’t expect me to come to your funeral.

She storms out, seething.

PRINCIPAL HAYES. Okay, thank you, Beth. Now, it’s been brought to my attention that there are certain rules in the student and faculty handbooks that are being enforced…let’s say, unevenly throughout the building. I just wanted to highlight a couple that we really need to focus on. Now, if you’ll all get out your handbooks…

LESLIE HANSON, a special education teacher, gets out her handbook. No one else moves.

PRINCIPAL HAYES. Okay, so it looks like some of you forgot to bring your handbooks like I asked, but that’s okay. You can just look on with someone. Or listen closely, I suppose. First, students are not to be wearing coats in the classroom. This is on page 13. The reasons are twofold: first, it’s a safety concern, and second, we feel that it creates a classroom climate – pardon the pun – that is not especially conducive to learning.

Leslie raises her hand.


LESLIE. Can we define the word “coat”?

MATT EVANS and AMY DUNCAN, both snarky English teachers, sit in the back of the room.

AMY. I agree. "Coat," was it? I’m not familiar with that term.

MATT. Is it anything like a boat? I know what a boat is.

LESLIE. Very funny, but what about a windbreaker? A fleece? Sportcoats? Those Columbia vests? Where do we draw the line?

MATT. Vests are okay. Coats have sleeves.

PRINCIPAL HAYES. Excellent point, Matt. I think we can all agree, “No sleeves, no coat.”

This conversation continues for fifteen minutes. We will not bore the reader with the details.

PRINCIPAL HAYES. Okay, so we’ve agreed that windbreakers, fleeces, and vests are acceptable because of the lack of sleeves and/or lining, but sportcoats are not because they have the word “coat” right in the name. Next, gum. Students are not to chew gum in classrooms, but Phil tells me that he and his crew are still scraping gum off of lockers and desks almost every night. Doesn’t make sense, people. We need to be vigilant about all of the gum-chewing that’s taking place in our classrooms and hallways.

RICK. Did it ever occur to anyone that if gum-chewing weren’t against the rules, students might be less likely to try to stick it under desks and in lockers to avoid getting caught?

PRINCIPAL HAYES. No. Third thing: I walk around the building between periods and during lunch, and I still see a lot of kids listening to their Walkmen. Walkmans? What’s the plural there, English teachers?

MATT. Doesn’t matter. No one is listening to a Walkman. The plural of iPod is iPods.

PRINCIPAL HAYES. Well, irregardless, it’s in black and white on page 48 of the handbook.

HENRY. Bob, I’m not sure I understand this rule. I mean, the kids who sit by their lockers during break listening to music aren’t hurting anyone. In fact, it probably mellows some of the bigger troublemakers out a little bit.

PRINCIPAL HAYES. Whether or not that’s true, Henry, the rule exists, and we need to enforce it. After all, if we let them listen in the hallways, what’s to keep them from listening in your classrooms?

HENRY. I would never allow that, Bob.


HENRY. Yeah, exactly. So why can’t teachers just be trusted to enforce these rules in the classroom where it’s actually important that they’re enforced?

PRINCIPAL HAYES. That’s an okay point, Henry, but see, I like to think of the hallways of this school as my own classroom. But I can’t be everywhere at once, so I need your help enforcing those rules in my part of the building.

HENRY. That’s ludicrous.

PRINCIPAL HAYES. Thank you. Okay, I think that’s about it everyone.

Everyone stands and begins to file out while chatting casually.

PRINCIPAL HAYES. And don’t forget that WKCE testing is coming up next week. This is really important…Excuse me? Anybody? Oh, well. Maybe next time.

And scene.

Later gators.


joeb said...

i laughed outloud so much while reading this that my boss had to come ask me if i was "okay" - aka, "start working".

Stacy said...

At my last faculty meeting, one person (from the education department, naturally) sat in front of the tray of cookies, ate one, and kept listening without considering the fact that the rest of us ALSO needed sugar at 4 in the afternoon.

Fifteen minutes later, someone from across the room got up, walked to the cookies, and passed them out to the rest of us.

That's basically what I remember abou the meeting. Oh, and the English department is doing a "seriously flawed" job of teaching writing.

Nicole said...

This is one of the most truthful accounts I have ever read.