Noble X - Episode 7: Testing
John stands disoriented as his alarm chimes onward for a moment longer, then relaxes. Realizing he is not late, he starts his day with enthusiasm, dropping to the ground. 30 push-ups to start his day! He feels like he has a new outlook on things. He is hyperaware of the symbolism of last night’s visions yet at this point in his sleep deprivation, he feels confident that his is now operating with 2/3 less filters. As he carefully separates and removes a fresh coffee filter from the plastic packaging, putting a pot on to brew, he marvels at the similarity of the white stone filters of his visions and that of this product’s packaging's depiction. Before he gets in the shower, he excitedly jogs to the spare bedroom to document this observation.
Dressed for work with his usual button-down-shirt tucked into gray pants, he eats a couple squares of cold pizza leftover from the studio last night. John thinks of all the amazing moments at the studio yesterday as his chews, glowing from the inside. Swallowing, he grabs his travel cup of coffee, his teacher bag, and his car keys to head out the door, just like any other Monday. But unlike most Mondays, he doesn’t listen to work in the car on the way. He listens to his own overlapping thoughts, driving in silence, excited about the day ahead. He feels excited to go to work today for the first time in a while, excited to help his students, to make his classroom a little nicer, to organize...a list a mile long unfurls in John’s mind’s eye.
John arrives at school and is greeted by his principal as he enters the main office. “Happy ISAT, Mr. Noble!” she says waving John into her office. John had forgotten, preoccupied with everything else. The show, the breakup, the studio, the study. But John is quick on his toes and echoes, “Happy ISAT!” on his way to Principal Hall’s office, waving at the secretary, Ms. Carlin, as he passes her desk.
Today is the first day of standardized testing for the State of Illinois. In his elevated mood, in the few seconds it takes to walk from the main office entrance into his principal’s office, he thinks about how cool he can make standardized testing. Now face-to-face with Principal Hall, he smiles as she hands him the box of testing materials, reminding him sternly to stick to the script. “Of course,” he adds reassuringly.
Anxious to get to his classroom, he wishes Principal Hall and Ms. Carlin a wonderful day and heads for the stairs and up to his third-floor, shared classroom. John is so jacked up with all of these ideas he hopes to accomplish in the mere 60 minutes for the bell rings and the day commences. He barely notices Ms. West, the other special education teacher he shares the long double classroom with.
Buzzing around his room, rearranging this and that with very specific attention to the layout for testing, John is making quite the commotion. Ms. West looks on, distracted by all the activity on John’s side of the room. Scooting tables and chairs around. Sharpening pencils. She interjects, “Mr. Noble, can we talk about testing?” and John stops abruptly. “Sure,” he replies while resisting the urge to jog over to her desk. He can see slight alarm on her face.
She has been here longer and has taught John the ropes. John nearly anticipates the words out of her mouth as Ms. West reminds him to "stick to the script because it is a technically illegal if you don’t." She reminds him of the schedule for today, the week, and what students he is proctoring the test for. John nods in understanding, digesting what she is saying while a million other ideas fire off in his mind. As she finishes, he thanks her, checks the clock, and gets back to adjusting his classroom with the few minutes that remain before the bell.
With his new arrangement of tables set, John carefully sets out organized piles of testing materials. Moments later the bell rings. John heads off to different classrooms to pick up his kids. As he walks, he reminds himself, “You are to read the directions, word for word, as laid out in the manual exactly as it says. No deviation. That would be illegal."
That just won’t work for John. Beneath his elevated mood there is darkness. For weeks leading up to this day, his frustration has grown and grown. Beneath all of the other ideas spinning in his head, there is a festering irritation for John that this test may not even end up counting. As it was told to school staff last month, the district will be switching standardized tests in the coming school year, so the data this time around won’t be used for anything. John already feels like he doesn’t have enough time to work with his students and in the back of his head, he has a fully formed plan to work in some additional skills instruction during today’s standardized testing.
Stay tuned for Episode 8.
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