Noble X — Episode 8: More Trials

Noble X — Episode 8: More Trials

By Mike Vinopal

Once all of John's students are seated, he begins to proctor the first task using the script provided. He casually interjects about the mini hourglass sand timers and puddy each student has at their disposal. He takes extra special care in showing them how to use these items to both pace themselves as well as to stay calm or deal with their frustration in healthier more productive ways. And just like that, he has broken the law. And still he takes extra care to explain responsible deductive reasoning when faced with a multiple-choice question. And again, John has broken the law.

He is also totally absorbed thus totally unaware of how fast he is speaking, how loud he is speaking, and how wildly excited he is acting. Theatrical. Dramatic. The kids notice that this is a very different Mr. Noble. Kids notice everything. But they don’t know, nor would they care that he has broken the law. Ms. West, on the other hand, though busy with her own test proctoring has heard everything. She plans to tell Principal Hall before the day is out. She doesn’t want it to reflect poorly upon her. She had instructed him to stick to the script.

Half of the testing day passes and John decides to give the students some free time. He remembers how unpleasant testing like this can be so he decides to shake things up, assigning captains. Captain Planet in charge of recycling and other green initiatives like plant care and such. Captain Supplies for pencil sharpening and general organization. He made them all captains of something, trying to give them ownership of an individual purpose. Captain Decorations and Captain Sanitation. Captain Music and Captain Computers. Within in minutes, he has passed out clip boards for each of his designated captains, encouraging them to brainstorm ideas for their ideal future classroom. 

John feels proud as they all get into the free-time activity, relishing something as unstructured as this after hours of standardized tests. And they thrive, generating lists of great ideas like little scientists milling about in a laboratory with their clipboards. All that is missing are lab coats. John is getting a major kick out of it, even more so since the kids are enjoying themselves as well. They have somewhat forgotten how amped up Mr. Noble was when proctoring testing this morning.

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John also shares his idea for New Month’s Eve and New Month’s Resolutions with his kids, relating them to New Year’s Eve celebrations and encouraging them to make resolutions of their own in hopes of teaching them about goal-setting in a fun way. He helps them make checklists for their own personal organization related to goal-setting. He listens to their ideas and helps to redecorate parts of the room. There is frenzied activity on his side of the room and the afternoon passes in a blur. With testing having disrupted their usual schedule, John figures keeping them all afternoon had been best for his students. He admires all they have accomplished today and all the ideas they had generated to work on in the coming week whenever they are not testing. 

The bell rings and he is left alone sitting at his desk in the huge double classroom. And as he completes a deep sigh of contentment, Ms. West appears in the doorway. She looks serious and extremely uncomfortable as she says, “Principal Hall wants to see you before you leave today, Mr. Noble.” She avoids making eye contact at first but then, given a momentary burst of courage, she locks eyes with John and says, “You better not mess around with the script like that tomorrow. You can get us both into some deep shit, John.” Conflicted, she shows a brief flash of guilt, then hardens again as she turns to leave. John pauses, stunned, just long enough to apologize to the classroom door clicking shut.

John is thrown off quite a bit. She left so quickly. He stands then paces back and forth behind his desk, unsure of what to do next. He scoops up his box of testing materials to return to the office, where he is greeted once again by the principal. She asks to speak with him for a moment, closing the door for privacy. John’s anus clenches as the door clicks shut. She is visibly unhappy, speaking in a low, deliberate voice, saying that more than one of John's coworkers had come to her today to report erratic behavior during testing. Particularly that he had deviated from the script, compromising the fidelity of the test.

Filters off, John begins to explain his frustration with the testing situation. “It is really a pointless waste of time. Testing these kids benefits no one, not the school, not the student, no one. This valuable time could be so much better spent.” And John would have continued but is stopped cold by Principal Hall's face, eyes wide, amazed by his nerve. “Mr. Noble, you would be best served to keep talk like that to yourself as it will only get you into trouble. Is that clear?" John felt like he could read her mind in that moment as her eyes bore into his own. “You are just pissing into the wind, sir, and you need to knock it off.”

Respectfully, John complied with her wishes, gave as genuine of an apology as he could give, assuring her that it wouldn’t happen again. Having been excused, he climbs the three flights back to his room where he intends to stay late and continue his work. He is relieved, but unsettled by today’s events. A thinly veiled threat of firing from his boss, the confrontation with Ms. West, the way the kids looked at him. He works these worries away, buzzing around the classroom with no one around to interrupt him, fine-tuning adjustments his class made to the room today. 

 

Stay tuned for Episode 9.


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