Tornadoes have the Fujita Scale. Earthquakes the Richter. Hurricanes the Saffir-Simpson. I guess we still have that Homeland Security color-coded thing, although I think we’ve all pretty much stopped paying attention to it. But what about Teachers? What scale for ranking educational disasters exists?
Obviously, this is a shortcoming that must be rectified, and Burque Babble is just the entity to do it. But as “Burque Babble Scale” doesn’t sound nearly as cool as “Fujita” or “Richter”, we need a super-sexy name…hmmm…let’s see. How about “Allison Scale” as in ex-APS Superintendent Brad Allison, who was basically a walking, talking, emailing, vodka and sleeping pills mixing disaster?
Below is the official Allison Scale for disasters within the teaching day. Educators should post the information below in their rooms, preferably next to that “Fire Exit” poster that nobody has looked at in years and years (and perhaps actually fell down back in 2003 and you just haven’t noticed).
Allison 1: Trying to listen to cringe-worthy 6th Grade student candidate speeches for Student Council over the intercom, while keeping a straight face before your classroom of 7th Graders.
Allison 2: Any lockdown drill, especially one that involves discussion of how students might go to the bathroom during a real lockdown (and includes the teacher sheepishly pointing to a trash can).
Allison 2.5: “Award Assemblies” in which a long list of “Honor Roll” students are, incomprehensibly, read while non-“Honor Roll” students disrupt things and act like bad Jerry Lewis impersonators. Having 341 bad Jerry Lewis impersonators sitting on those bouncy gym bleachers is like watching “The Nutty Professor” on 341 different screens simultaneously with all the screens showing different parts of the movie.
Allison 3: Having a Fire Drill during a test perfectly calculated to be completed within one class period.
Allison 3.5: Teaching next to the Nurse’s Office when a particularly virulent strain of gastro-intestinal distress has hit campus. The smell of projectile vomit and teaching doesn’t go together very well, I’ve learned.
Allison 4: Experiencing a thirty-minute lock down while police pursue “suspects in the area”.
Allison 4.5: Any classtime that develops because an end-of-semester band concert has ended too early. You’re in the gym, sitting through “O Tannenbaum” played on squeaky violins at the metronomic pace of “meandering”, when suddenly the tune ends and the principal comes on and tells students to “go back to your 7th Period class” fifteen minutes before the final bell. That is one long, long walk back to the classroom. Teachers should definitely be provided lion taming chairs and whips for situations like this.
Allison 5: Trying to have middle school in-class debates on the day before Halloween while a Jackie Chan movie is being made so close to your classroom door that everyone, debaters wearing “pirate” costumes included, can hear the director saying “Action!”. Not that I would know anything about this.
Allison 5.5: Professional Development Day. Nothing makes a teacher value kids and the classroom like a “PD Day”. The weirdest part of it is that you have these former classroom teachers who evidently have gone through some Manchurian Candidate program that washes all their memories of the classroom away and replaces it with Maoist pedagogic malarkey. Okay, it’s not Maoist. But you get the idea. You want to hold your hand up to these “facilitators” faces and wave it briskly up and down before their eyes. What do these PD automatons “see”? Are they still human?
Allison 6: Staff “training” sessions that involve the use of the same “teaching” techniques we are told to NEVER use in the classroom. This means ALL staff “training” sessions, as they ALL consist of lectures, bad PowerPoints being read slide after slide in toto by “trainers” and excruciatingly bad videos featuring Public Access-level production values and cheesy music usually reserved for elevators and those late night movies on Cinemax.
Allison 7: Experiencing a lockdown during after-school activities (and/or just as you’re headed out the door to go home), like the one at Carlos Rey Elementary yesterday. I can just imagine the teachers spinning car keys in their hands as they impatiently wait for the “all clear”. This may seem high on the scale, what with no students in most of the rooms, but just roll that scenario around in your teacher noggin a while.
Allison 8: ANY discussion during ANY staff meeting. Staff meetings are like Thanksgiving dinner for dysfunctional families, but with 100 people. “Dinner conversation” is a short-fuse time bomb, and usually by the third or fourth comment even the best-facilitated discussion has devolved into, “I can’t do this anymore, and nobody will help me!” with the same flailing of arms and other melodramatic histrionics associated with bad community theater productions of Eugene O’Neill plays. One only wonders what level of verbal dysfunction could be reached if staff meetings included alcoholic beverages. It would surely make “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” look like “Home Alone 4”.
Allison 9: Any trip to APS Central Office (aka, the “Twin Towers”). I don’t personally believe in spirits and such, but the vibe at that place makes Jonestown seem like Cliff’s Amusement Park. It’s REALLY creepy. To make extra money in these tough budgetary times, The District should turn Central Office into one of those Halloween Haunted Houses every year. The great thing is they wouldn’t have to put up decorations, black lights or anything…it’s just fine for scaring the crap out of folks exactly as it already is.
Allison 10: Experiencing a three-hour lockdown at Rio Grande HS that runs well into the late afternoon. Widespread destruction. Homes swept off their foundations. In a sick, rubbernecking the car crash way, I kinda wish there was video of this recent event. From a teacher perspective this must have been quite, quite awful.