Title: Self Discovery 101
Rating: G, possibly PG in the future. There is some minor swearing, nothing you wouldn't hear on a family show, really (or anything that couldn't be turned in to a teacher.)
Disclaimers: No infringement is intended. The characters of Wild Card do not belong to me, though any original characters do. Richard Todd (being an original character) is based on one of my old science teachers who, yes, did jump on desks (broke 3 of them), walked across them and cabinets, and was basically entirely random in how he did things (which including putting jars that contained live snakes, scorpions, or spiders on your desk without warning.) Some of the topics used in this series/story may be based on (and modified slightly) The Writer's Idea Book by Jack Heffron. No infringement is intended there, either.
Notes: I originally had this idea when I was wandering through the library and found a book that looked interesting. I checked The Writer's Idea Book out of my local library that day, and quite often until I finally broke down and bought my own copy. The book contains over 400 prompts to help writers try to get over blocks or look at things in new ways. I've done a few and they can be a lot of fun, actually, but some are, in my mind, very reminiscent of journal entries my English teachers had the class do. I decided to adapt some of the prompts for this purpose, using them to explore the character of Taylor Woodall: how she thinks, reacts, what she believes, etc. I picked Taylor because, although I don't like a lot of what she does onscreen, I do find her to be a somewhat interesting character. The onscreen sometimes spoiled teen can't be all there is to her. I don't know how often I'll be updating this story, but I will work on her various entries in addition to the rest of my stories. Each one will be basically stand alone, with the topic at the beginning of each chapter. Oh, and I wrote this before the guy who died by going out a window in "Multiple Personality Fatality." I didn't steal the standing-on-the-desk thing from there. My science teacher really did do that lol
Summary: Life as seen by Taylor Woodall. Chapter one/prologue is the explanation, and the subsequent chapters are journal entries. Possible spoilers for any episode in the series -- entries with spoilers for specific episodes will be marked as such.
Taylor Woodall smiled and shook her head, laughing as she talked with some of her friends. It was the first day of school and this was her third class of the day. Finding a seat slightly off to one side but still in the basic center of the large group of desks, she sat down, dropping her bag to the floor and letting the books she'd collected so far fall onto the desk with a thump. The second bell, a warning one, rang and the students still in the hallways shuffled towards their classes slowly, filing into them and finding seats for themselves. The final bell rang a scant minute later and doors could be heard shutting up and down the hallways. Looking around the room she was in, she was surprised to find almost every spare inch of the walls covered with posters of animals, classic art, and various bands. Even areas of the ceiling had pictures taped to it. It was unlike any classroom she'd ever been in, the institution cream, white, and beige gone under the onslaught of blues and greens, pinks and reds, yellows and oranges; a rainbow of color that drew the eye and was almost guaranteed to wake a student up to be both energized and enthusiastic.
"Welcome to your new English class," the slim, casually dressed man said as he turned away from the large blackboard -- which was also covered in chalk drawings -- that took up most of one wall in the classroom and looked over the bored students. "I'm Richard Todd. This is, as always, an all-year course and required for graduation. I'm sure that you all know each other by now," he gestured, "so we'll just get right down into the nitty-gritty."
Taylor sat through roll-call and the teacher making sure that he could see who each student was before continuing onto the next. Startled, she watched as Mr. Todd shook his head slightly and began to pace the length of the room, apparently too restless to sit down or stand still. Even his clothes were out of character for a teacher, she decided. Jeans that fit almost too tightly -- showcasing a truly wonderful butt; the very fact that she noticed such a detail caused Taylor to sink slightly in her seat as her cheeks began to heat -- and a simple T-shirt emblazoned with a cartoon. A slightly worn leather jacket was visible where it was thrown over the top of his desk, almost as if he didn't expect to sit there long enough to work.
"I'm sure that all of you have had classes you've disliked, especially the core required courses of English, Science, and History. This class will be different," he promised.
"No work?" one of the smart-ass students called out, causing others to snicker.
"Oh, you'll be working." In a sudden move, he jumped onto a sturdy cabinet that lined the wall by the door and began pacing atop those, easily stepping over the papers and folders that were already littered on top. "But I believe in having fun while you learn. Don't get me wrong, here: you won't get a grade you don't earn," he warned amid groans.
"To me, one of the most important things about learning, even in school, is that you also learn about yourself. That's the important thing. That's what's going to help you out there in that chaotic mass we call the world," he gestured and stepped off of the cabinet ... onto the closest desk.
It was occupied by a pretty blonde girl, one that Taylor knew as one of the shyer people in the class, who looked up with wide eyes. He stepped immediately to the next desk, not even waiting as a jock scrambled to move his bag from the top of it. The stepping stone game continued until he was standing on top of his own desk, located in a far corner by the front of the classroom. As the impromptu game went on, he kept talking: "Reading all of Shakespeare's plays and being able to recite chapter and verse of the Canterbury Tales won't help you much. The ability to read, write, and understand what you do will. Understanding yourself is part of that." He immediately leapt down from it and continued to talk as if nothing had happened.
"In addition to the standard assignments you can expect, you will be keeping a journal while you're in this class."
"That's so fifth-grade!" a masculine voice rang out.
"It'll only be fifth-grade if you apply yourself as a fifth-grader would," Mr. Todd promised, "and write on that level," he teased.
Taylor, along with the majority of the rest of the class, turned to the jock who had spoken and laughed slightly.
"It's not a daily assignment. You'll be getting topic sheets at the beginning of class every Monday. Your journal may be turned in at any time on Friday. That means before, during, or after class. You have until the end of the day, as long as I receive it by the time I leave. If you cannot write on the topic you were given, you may choose to rewrite an earlier topic or come up with one of your own. Please write a note at the beginning of the entry to say what your topic is, even if you haven't changed it." He began handing out the first assignments. "You have a fifteen-hundred word minimum, no maximum. You may go slightly under once in a while. You may write in either a spiral bound notebook or on a computer. If you write on the computer, save to disk and turn it in to me. To be frank, I prefer the computer disk. They're easier to carry around with me," he told them with a grin. The honest statement caused a few of the students to laugh as they handed sheets to the students behind them.
"If it's private and you don't want me to read it, write a note at the beginning and I'll just check for length. I'm not here to read your deep, dark secrets and reveal them to the world. You cannot, however, mark all of them as private. I can tell you that I won't be reading through all of the entries I get every week or even the ones that you wrote every week. I'll be picking them at random and reading them."
"But then how do we know if you read ours?" It was the blonde from earlier who spoke up, her voice quiet.
"You won't," he answered with a laugh. "If you never know if I'm going to do more than skim yours, you can't just completely bullshit your way through the entire assignment," he reasoned. "Please make sure that your grammar and spelling are basically decent -- no obvious misspelled words. I do understand, of course, that this is harder if you're writing in a notebook and will grade accordingly. Your entries don't have to be report-perfect; just think of them as practice and do your best."
Reaching the far side of the room, the one where the cabinets and door were located, he slammed his hand down on the top of the cabinet, the noise causing the students to jump. "From now on, look here for your journal assignments when you come in or leave on Mondays. There will be copies here until every Thursday." He ran his hand up, tapping the wall right by the door. "I'll do printouts of your grades every week. New ones will be posted here on Mondays. Just look for your student number. They will not only contain the grades for assignments and tests, but also your current grade overall. Any questions?"
"What if we don't like our grades?"
Mr. Todd nodded slightly as he walked the length of the classroom again. "Come talk to me. Any report you do, I'll give you two possible grades: your current one and one that you will receive if you turn it in with corrections, if there are any to be made. If you turn it in with them, I'll change the grade. If you'd like extra credit assignments, we can discuss those." He sat down on the edge of his desk and scooted backwards slightly so he could draw his legs up Indian-style. "I'm not your enemy, guys. I'm your teacher, yes, but that doesn't mean I'm out to get you."
Taylor glanced around, unsure if she completely believed him. Teachers were always out to get the students, it seemed. Sure enough, none of the other students sitting around here looked like they believed the announcement.
"I'm not here to baby-sit you for an hour every day, which means that I'm not going to treat you like idiots or kids that need their hands held through every single assignment. I'm going to treat you like the adults you almost are and give you some breathing room. That means that yes, I will remind you about an assignment, but I expect you to remember it yourselves. I will explain the assignments to you when they are assigned and you may ask questions in class. After that, come to me if you don't understand something and I'll do my best to help you. Any questions?"
Taylor looked around at her fellow students, knowing that they were just as confused about this new teacher as she was. When there was no question forthcoming he immediately jumped from the desk with a large smile. "Great! Now it's time to pass out your new books!"
Taylor sighed and sank down a little further into the hard plastic chair, listening as the teacher explained about how he wanted their notebook to be kept and other ways he ran his class, resigning herself to another year of school and another heavy textbook to carry around. At least in this class her teacher seemed like he'd be fun part of the time and a lot more lenient about some things.
TBC in Journal Entry # 1
Reviews are welcome.