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BEFORE THE BELL

Angela Buzan Books, Life in the Classroom

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BEFORE THE BELL

A Thousand Word Play

by Angela Buzan


Setting:

October. A public school. The first 30 minutes of a Tuesday.

 

CAST OF CHARACTERS

.                    TEACHER:      a woman in her mid 30s, called “Buzan”

.                    COLLEAGUES:    various, each appears only once

.                    STUDENTS:      Anonymous and fleeting, referred to by letters, respectively.

.                    COACH

.                    PRINCIPAL

.                    CO-TEACHER


Scene 1: Home

TEACHER: [running downstairs] Igottago! Breakfast and lunch is on the counter. Don’t forget to take out the dog.

HUSBAND: Your clothes don’t match. You’re missing an earring.

TEACHER: I know. It’s a Spirit Day thing.

[TEACHER gets in car. Thermostat reads 38 degrees.]

 


Scene 2: School Entrance

COLLEAGUE: Lem’me get that. [opens door]

TEACHER: [juggling bags, tea, and jellied toast] You’re a lifesaver.

[a group of students in colorful tutus and pajamas approaches]

GROUP: Buzan! Breakfast in the cafeteria today!

TEACHER: [with mouth full] Srsly? Why?

GROUP: BECAUSE TEACHERS ARE AWESOME! And it’s Homecoming Week.


Scene 3: The Cafeteria

[TEACHER, holding copies and bags and tea and toast and free breakfast, thrusts left side of body against door.]

COACH: Want some help?

TEACHER: Thanks. Hey, you were Plato in my Greek lesson yesterday.

COACH: Plato?

TEACHER: Yeah. Did you know he was a wrestler? Plato was a nickname meaning “broad shoulders”.

COACH: Nice!

[random student walks past strumming guitar]

 


Scene 4: The Hallway

PRINCIPAL: Nice work during your walk-through observation yesterday. Learning, learning, learning. I like it.

TEACHER: Thank you!

PRINCIPAL: Don’t forget we have a faculty meeting after school.

TEACHER: [widens eyes, nods] Right-o!

[exit PRINCIPAL, enter COLLEAGUE]

COLLEAGUE: Do you have the iPad cart? I need it.

TEACHER: Yes. FYI they are not in order; the bottom row doesn’t charge so we just plug the dead ones into the top. Oh and 14 is broken. Oh and don’t let your kids update them, otherwise they won’t connect to WIFI.

COLLEAGUE: Got it.

[exit COLLEAGUE, enter Student W]

Student W: How would YOU like to buy a track shirt?

TEACHER: Already bought one.

Student W: Ugh!

[exit Student W]

 


Scene 5: The Classroom

[Students M, S, and K are chatting enthusiastically outside the door.]

M: It’s cold. It’s SO cold today.

TEACHER: [opens door] Eeessh. Colder in here.

S: BUZAN! This guy thinks he can bench 150!

TEACHER: Can you, K?

K: Yep.

S: I’m like, yeah right! Let’s see it happen at school.

TEACHER: Did you work out at 3 am again?

K: Yep.

TEACHER: You should try sleeping. It’s like a workout for the brain.

K: Ha.

TEACHER: Did you eat?

K: No.

TEACHER: Grab a granola bar from the filing cabinet.

M: [shiver dancing] It’s like 50 degrees or something!

 

[enter COLLEAGUE]

COLLEAGUE: Buzan, did you get breakfast?

TEACHER: Yes. Thank you.

[exit COLLEAGUE]

 

M: Are we doing anything today?

TEACHER: Really? Have we ever had a day where we did nothing?

M: Exactly! That’s why I’m asking. I’m waiting for that day.

TEACHER: Dream on, my friend. [puts bags and toast and breakfast and tea and copies on desk.] [enter COLLEAGUE]

COLLEAGUE: Here are the Scantrons you needed. No one realizes how expensive these things are but the cost adds up. Since they are proprietary items, I use ‘em twice. Next time just start your test at number 51. Plus, it keeps the kids on their toes.

[exit COLLEAGUE]

 

[enter Student D]

D: [in flat affect] Mrs. Buzan, I utilized all of your elements of rhetoric last night and found them to be ineffective.

TEACHER: Oh really? Do tell.

[mouse runs across classroom in a rapid zig-zag]

D: My parents have decided to get a divorce.

TEACHER: [looks up from mouse] What?

D: We talked for three hours. I used ethos, pathos, and logos. I did not find your tactics of argument to be effective.

TEACHER: D, I am so sorry. What can I do to help you?

D: I need to speak to my Spanish teacher about Practice 3A. I will visit you again after school. I will not stay longer than one hour.

TEACHER: See you then.

[exit Student D]

 

[Student R enters with bravado]

R: Hellloooo! I’m bored. Can I do something?

TEACHER: It’s 7:28 in the morning.

R: Can I have some candy?

TEACHER: Yes. Here, staple these.

R: OKAY! Wait. None of these packets are in order.

TEACHER: Copy machine user error.

R: Huh? Okay. I’ll organize and staple them.

[Student Z enters with a book]

TEACHER: Z! You finished your book already?! What are you reading now?

Z: [walks up to desk, shy, hiding cover of Land of the Lawn Weenies]

TEACHER: Haha. Quite a contrast to Down River. Did you read the one about Everest yet? Into Thin Air.

Z: No. Where is it? [walks to bookshelf]

 

[bell rings]

 

[enter COLLEAGUE]

COLLEAGUE: What are you doing for Grammar?

TEACHER: Subject and object pronouns.

COLLEAGUE: Want to plan at lunch?

TEACHER: Yep.

[exit COLLEAGUE]

 

[enter Student H]

H: Mrs. Buzan, where’s the Tupac book?

TEACHER: It’s checked out.

H: It’s always checked out.

K: [yells from back] Tupac’s still alive!

S: [in loud dramatic whisper] Dude, did you hear about the clowns?!

TEACHER: It’s too early for this conversation.

K: Masks!

TEACHER: TOO EARLY!

[bell rings, students scatter]

 

[enter CO-TEACHER]

CO-TEACHER: So, the split plan for today? I’ll do Part B of the test with half of the kids in here and you’ll do Part A of the test with the other half in the auditorium?

TEACHER: Yep. Think it’ll help ‘em manage the essay questions?

CO-TEACHER: I do. I’ll use the first part of class to help them organize their ideas, and they’ll have the second half to write.

TEACHER: Great idea. Let’s do this again with the final exam.

[enter Student Y]

Y: What’d we do yesterday? I was absent.

TEACHER: Did you look at our website?

Y: I don’t have internet.

TEACHER: So weird. Your Snapchat is literally open right now.

Y: [sheepishly] I’ll look online.

INTERCOM: [student reading] Gooood Moooorning, Panthers. Please stand for The Pledge of Allegiance.

TEACHER: [sneezes]

ALL: I pledge allegiance…

 

END SCENE

 


 

 

 

Angela Buzan is a full time English teacher in the Flagstaff Unified School District. She has thirteen years’ teaching experience and has taught all grades seven through twelve. In 2010, she received a Fulbright Teacher Exchange fellowship to Kolkata, India; in 2012 she achieved National Board Certification; in 2014 she earned a Master’s Degree in Curriculum Design and Instruction. Her current challenge is to out-read Gavin, in third period, who typically polishes off three novels a week.

Comments 7

  1. Angelia

    This is such an amazing and creative way to bring people into the morning of an educator. You told the stories of you, your peers, and your students in a real and respectful tone. Thank you for running into school early with jellied toast and high hopes for your students. You are an amazing educator and this is a fantastically written piece.

  2. Jennifer Robinson

    Hi Angela-
    What a great perspective of teaching. Although it was short segment of time, so many decisions and interactions happened. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Donnie Lee

    OMG I do not think anyone outside of the profession realizes how many decisions we make and how much advice and answers we give out in 15 minutes. What a great way to make a snap shot of this for everyone to understand.

  4. Alaina Adams

    THIS = Brilliant! And so accurately captures so many moments of my life as a secondary educator. The clown thing was real… too soon indeed! The Geeky English teacher in me loved the form you chose to present your content. Bravo friend!

  5. Sandy Merz

    Ha, I love the kid that asks if you’re doing anything that day. I always take it as a good sign when kids ask that – they know to expect something.

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