Dear Dr. Pfill

We have decided to add a category for silly stuff. Nearly everything on this site is something serious about improving instruction. It is time we paused and took a slightly skewed look at the foibles of the profession. Our first offering is a take on the advice shows that are proliferating on television. Enjoy (we hope).

Dear Dr. Pfill:

I am a third grade teacher in a school in Prairie Backwater, Kansas and I am very upset with the Principal in my building. The other day she came into my room while I was teaching Writing Standard 3.2.56 and just stood there staring at my feet. I got so flustered that I started dancing around because I thought she was upset that I was standing in one place and not using the TESA training we received between 3 and 3:30 on the second Tuesday of January for our annual inservice.

The poor children didn’t know what to think. Here I was trying to teach them how to write a persuasive letter with parenthetical clauses while I was skipping about the room like a flamingo on a hot sidewalk. Georgie Jarolomek started giggling and the next thing I knew the whole class was in an uproar. Ms. Updike, the Principal, wrote something on her clipboard, turned, and stalked away. What should I do?

Lady in Pink

Dear Pinkie:

For starters, lose the pink outfit. No wonder you looked like a flamingo. If you would take more care in your appearance Principal Updike would probably not have been staring at your shoes. Personal appearance has a very high correlation with test scores, you know. It is right up there with unpleasant smells and the color pink.

My second piece of advice is this: Go to Ms. Updike, fall on your knees, and beg her forgiveness for your fashion faux pas. Like most principals, she surely has a good nature and most likely will be willing to give you some fashion pointers. Remember, dress right, smell good don’t wear pink and your students will ace those tests.

Dear Dr. Pfill:

Every time I drop by the faculty room at my high school (I am the Assistant Principal) everyone stops talking and they act like they are reading or grading papers. Before I open the door I can hear lots of cheerful chatter or, sometimes, loud arguments, but as soon as I walk in with my walkie-talkie in hand, dead silence. At first I would try to start a discussion on the effect of the new State Standards on the sports program, brain research and its implications for the language arts department, or Eisner’s work on literacy in the arts but they would have none of it. Every attempt was rebuffed. How can I break through this barrier of steel and win the teachers over.

Lonely Ass. Prin.
Dear Ass-prin:

Take one and get over it. These teachers are not stupid. They know that you are coming onto their turf to get the goods on them. Your use of the walkie-talkie testifies to that. It’s a direct line to the recorder everyone has seen in the Principal’s office. And your choice of topics is so obvious. Teachers who know about this stuff are ACCOUNTABLE, Bub. And accountable is another way of saying, “Hello, Mr. Know-it-all. We are having a minor fiscal problem around here and the only way to fix it is to send you to the cornfield.”

My advice to you is lose the radio and bring donuts instead. Once every one is in a sugar stupor you can spring one of your topics and send their responses to the office via your wireless PDA. Happy hunting!

Dear Dr. Pfill:

There is a teacher in my school who at lunch is always talking with her mouth full. She also talks negatively about the kids in her class. Any advice?

Can’t stand it

Dear CSI-

People who talk with food in their mouth are often suffering from suppressed feelings of loss (as in I lost my socks and my feet are cold) or from high anxiety disorder. This latter psychosis often overcomes a person when they are dropped from a tall building or, in a lesser number of incidents, when shot from a catapult or large-bore cannon. In any event, these people need our sympathy for they know not what they do. I suggest you show this sympathy by joining the discussion while eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and drinking a Mountain Dew.

Speaking negatively of one’s students is a different crock of pasta. This suggests a deep seated disturbance of Broca’s area of the brain. The only help for this poor soul is to remove the left hemisphere of her brain and replace it with a recording of “Climb Every Mountain” that plays every time she hears the phrase, “It is time for the morning announcements.”

Dr. Pfill

Dear Dr. Pfill:

My supervisor took a nap during his observation of my lesson. He is still there (school is out for the day). What should I do?

First Year Teacher


Run to the supermarket and get a six pack of brew. Empty the cans in the parking lot, then scatter them around the sleeping lump and make a video of the scene. Pick up the cans and dispose of them off site, then go home.

Next day ask to review your observation as though nothing unusual had happened. If he brings up his sleeping episode act like it didn’t happen. This will drive him nuts and he will probably leave you alone forever. But if he doesn’t…..

Dr. Pfill

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