"Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas. Their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messed cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown."
- Chuck Palahniuk
Few individuals in this life would volunteer for a straight punch to the solar plexus, let alone three of them. The likes of Johnny Knoxville could be considered, only to pull a no-show due to zero compensation. This was exactly what Will was signing up for, only in a psychological means.
One by one, Will met with his cohorts to discuss what they apparently were afraid of telling him. Despite knowing what he would be told, Will still felt his confidence deplete slowly. In each of the meetings, Will was adamant in telling each of them “I cannot know your frustrations and your views on my work if you don’t communicate with me. Give me feedback.” For his entire life, Will was a willing learner. That was not about to change.
In the coming weeks, Will’s rebuilding of relationships would be a slow arduous process. Trust is a very curious thing: it isn’t a bone or a ligament that can be simply repaired. There must be a certain degree of mutualism. Needless to say, some were repaired and some remained irrevocably destroyed.
The year progressed, fall became winter, and the cautious optimism of Will’s psyche was replaced with anxiety. Every morning commute, Will could feel the pit in his stomach grow larger as his proximity from school increased. The same sensation could be created every time Will pressed “Enter” to log into his school email, afraid of getting another condescending email from a colleague. While it was only November, Will almost felt like the year was already gone, already a failure…
Mrs. Chapman was the first to truly come around. One December afternoon, she came into his classroom asking if he would want to help her in creating a geology lab. Will naturally obliged, seeing this to be a professional olive branch. At one point, Mrs. Chapman vented to him about “so much drama and self-centeredness...we are supposed to be here for the kids!” From then on, the lines of communication between them were wide open. She became Will’s closest confident…
...despite the meeting Will had with Miss Marley, and outlining their expectations for one another, her gripping did not cease. Despite Will adamantly requesting to her “please...if there is an issue, come to me,” she did not.
A typical Sunday, Will was cleaning his fancy domicile when (as usual) he received a snarky email from Miss Marley, littered with the usual complaints: “I don’t have enough time to modify...how am I supposed to make this work for my kids?!”
The lesson she was creating a rampage about was more or less a web-quest, in which the students navigated through a website full of informational text, animations, and interactives. It was beneficial to all sorts of learners. The worksheet that complimented the website was very open ended: the students could gain information from the text or through the interactives. Still, this did not prevent Miss Marley from raising all kinds of hell, causing even the likes of Veruca Salt to blush, exceeding her childish demands of acquiring a golden goose egg.
Will, having the peacemaking personality, decided that he would make some suggestions for her. So he turned to his beautiful, blonde Intervention Specialist fiance and asked, “how could we alter this to help her group?” After briefly discussing the type of accommodations her kids received, Beautiful Fiance suggested “if it isn’t too big of a group, she could pull the kids and read them the text and kind of guide them through it.”
There was one major reason he was going to marry that woman: her nice, big, voluptuous, sexy brain.
Moments later, a symphony of clicks sounded upon the walls of his 1-bedroom apartment, as he kindly typed up his reply to Miss Marley. In short, he suggested that “perhaps if there is a means to get a projector or even a few laptops, you could pull the kids into a small group? That way, you can guide their way through the text if it’s a bit too difficult.” The “Send” button was clicked, and Will immediately showered his fiance with positive words of affirmation. “You are as smart as your are beautiful,” Will exclaimed lovingly, “you are the apple of my eye, my muse, and my flame.”
“Oh William, you are the man of my dreams. I shan’t look at another man again. My heart beats for you, and you alone!” With that, they embraced and shared a firm handshake, being quite aware of their physical contact, as they were not yet married.
After Will fulfilled his duty as a cattle-driver (morning hall duty), he crossed paths with Mrs. Chapman, who gave him a look of both humor and annoyance. “Will, what did you do?” she asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I was working on my homework last night, and I got a voicemail from Miss Marley, just cussing up a storm: ‘F this, F that! He’s making me do this lesson, and he’s forcing me to do it his way!’”
“She was going off about being disrespected as a teacher because you told the class ‘when you reach the lesson checkpoints, raise your hand, and I’ll initial it’ and she took that as her not being allowed to. And that you said she can’t change the lessons because ‘we do what I want them to do.’”
“You’re kidding me. Ok. I’m sorry I teach five other classes and I slipped. She should know better. And the rest of that is absolute bullshit. I suggested to her ways that she could modify the assignment for her kids. She made no other suggestions. I have never told her no.”
“It was pretty bad…”
“That is ridiculous. You shouldn’t be dealing with that. Did you tell her to come to me?”
“Yep. And all she said was “he doesn’t listen! We always do what he wants to do!”
Will could not believe it. How could someone who was in education for that long, a professional, be so...well, damn unprofessional? Not only that, but he had explicitly asked Miss Marley that if there were ANY issues, to come to him first. She seemed to only communicate when reached out to, sometimes not even replying when that was the case. As a kind gesture prior to Christmas break, Will had made his team some lovely, holiday-scented candles. When he presented them to his team, they were grateful and seemed almost embarrassed, with Mrs. Chapman remarking “you didn’t have to do this...I didn’t get you anything!” Miss Marley was not there, so he navigated his way to her classroom.
Miss Marley’s room looked like a third world country. Her desk covered with papers and books. She had animal cages and containers, illuminated only by the gentle glow of a halogen light. Will feared how many lives were taken inside these walls. He wanted to take a deep breath to calm his fears, but the risk of inhaling asbestos, 2 inches of dust, and dog hair was far too vast to slake his need for oxygen.
Will then placed the candle atop a book about reptiles, next to what he assumed was the latest issue of “Thick Denim Weekly.” Later that day, he sent her an email to make sure that she indeed knew the gift was for her. “Hey Miss Marley! I left you a little gift on your desk. Hope you enjoy it! Have a great Holiday break!” Will was bound and determined to give her diabetes.
Not one word. Not one reply. Not even a “the candle smelled like shit.” Nothing....
Seventh period arrived and, as usual, Miss Marley was late. As Will began instructing the class about the web-quest, Miss Marley merely opened the door, pointed to her students to acknowledge to them “come with me,” and left the room without so much a word to Will.
About 90 minutes later, Miss Marley finally reached out to Will in her typical, ranting style. At least she was making progress. She finally came to Will first. As she stormed into his room, she slammed down the webquest worksheet on the front table and exclaimed “this did not work. If I were you, I would throw these out because they did not understand any of it. You have to give me more time to modify this!”
“I sent that to you Friday afternoon, “ Will replied.
“Well, I didn’t have time to look at it until late last night...I was busy all weekend.”
“Well, what about my suggestions?”
“I had to kick out Mrs. 8th Grade Teacher from her classroom during her prep time so I could use her projector!”
“I didn’t ask you to do that...were there any projectors available to sign out from the media center? You could have taken one of those and used that spare room at the end of the hall”
“I didn’t have enough time this morning! And that room is too small,” Miss Marley complained about her having to try and cram five whole students into an open classroom.
“You could have asked me to sign out a projector; I would have done it,” Will calmly replied, now fixating his eyes on his computer screen. He saw this conversation was going nowhere.
“Will, I didn’t have time…” Miss Marley uttered yet again.“Well, I don’t know what you want me to do. I sent you the lesson plan with days to spare, I made suggestions for you. I don’t know what else I can do.” Will’s eyes were still fixated on his screen, communicating to Miss Marley that while he was listening, he wasn’t going to throw down on an argument. Will had seen this method dozens of times, only instead of two adults, it was typically a parent and a toddler. Surprisingly, Miss Marley seemed to listen to what he said, as she did not react. She simply left....