Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Inside Scoop

One my school's new initiatives this year is to match each teacher up with a group of students who share a common career interest so that the students can learn more about that career and, in theory, get valuable information about how to be that when they grow up.

I lucked out and got the group of kids who want to grow up to be either teachers or librarians. (I wanted just the librarians, but shocker, there weren't that many of them so they threw some future teachers into the mix.) For the most part, I can answer their questions and give them good guidance. It makes me feel almost bad for the teacher who has our future security guards.

At the last meeting I had with them, a student asked,

"So, what exactly do you all do at faculty meetings? What do you talk about?"

The kids probably think it's all about them, that we all sit behind closed doors and swig coffee and name kids by name and gossip. Or that we have big dramatic confrontations with each other or with our leaders like you see on those TV dramas that try, so hard, to capture what it's like to work in a school. The truth is so much less interesting and not even remotely sexy.

Yesterday we had a faculty meeting that I kinda wish some of those future teachers could have visited. Any kid still wanting to teach by the end of it should have gotten handed their teaching certificate immediately, before they could think about it too much and change their minds.

It started with a guest speaker from outside the world of education who Bless her heart. She's trying to get us onboard with a new program that would teach high school kids about sexual assault and abuse towards women in a way that would hopefully get them proactive in stopping such acts. I applaud her efforts if not the execution.

She rubbed me the wrong way, but so does 99% of the adult population.

Our auditorium has a habit of sucking the signal from presentation remotes so when someone wants to show a PowerPoint-type-thing during faculty meetings, I almost always have to stand in the back of the room and advance the person's slides for them. It isn't hard; the person nods at me and I hit the space bar. A trained monkey could do it, and at my school, I am proud to be that trained monkey on the merits of me having the title School Media Specialist. We apparently learn to push buttons really well at grad school.

So, anyway, the presentation remote won't work in the black hole of the auditorium so I am advancing slides for this very energetic woman. Rather than just nodding at me, or pointing, she tells me VERY LOUDLY over the microphone when she wants me to advance her slide and gives me about a nanosecond's worth of reaction time before she tells me again. It's as if she expects me to be a mind-reader and is very disappointed in me as a human being.

After this had gone on about 3 slides, and after she sent me one slide too far at one point by nodding her head at me and a moment later telling me to advance, thus giving me a mixed signal, she decided to single me out.

"Let's all hear it for your media specialist, isn't she great?"

Okay, first of all--
1. I don't really think you mean that.
2. Second of all, please don't draw attention to the fact that I am back here pushing a button when half my colleagues think all I do all day is check in and out books and resent that I get paid on the same salary scale as they do. There's a chance you're being sincere, but you're seriously not helping my cause back here.

About this time, she also takes notice of Ainsley. See, Ains gets off the bus about 5 minutes before our faculty meetings, so she's been tagging along at them for 2 1/2 years now. I've often said she's better behaved at them than our teachers are.

"Some of this content isn't age-appropriate," she said, pointing at Ainsley. Who wasn't even remotely paying attention at this point; she was having a snack and doing her homework.

One of our counsellors, who means well, came up behind me. "If this is the same slideshow I saw, then you probably don't want Ainsley in here," she whispered.

But I'm the designated button-pusher! If I take Ainsley outside, who will we find who can do it with such skill and finesse?

"Well, I'm kind of stuck. What do you suggest I do?"

"You might want to let her go to the library by herself until this is over."

So, instead of just learning about sexual assault, I can contribute to one taking place by letting my seven-year-old take herself into the library after hours, unsupervised. Brilliant.

I sent the kid out into a little alcove right outside the auditorium where I could see the top of her head while I continued to push buttons. And there wasn't even anything remotely graphic in the presentation, after all. In fact, I think the average episode of As The World Turns would have been less "age appropriate."

When that whole thing mercifully ended, we were told we needed to each take a section of a practice ACT in order to refresh our memories about what the test items are like, the skills a student needs to do well, the time constraints, etc. Not ideally what I'd like to do at 3:15 in the afternoon after an agressively energetic woman gives me a long talk about sexual abuse, but I wasn't going to complain.

Others complained. A teacher sitting close to me voiced objections to one of the administrators that sounded just like the kind of complaints this same teacher probably jumps all over his/her students for.

"Why do we have to do this? What's the point?"

I wasn't quite close enough to hear what the administrator said back, but whatever it was, it must not have made the task seem rigorous and relevant enough to make it worth this teacher's time; s/he up and left (I'm not revealing the gender so as to protect the innocent/petulant.)

It was 15 minutes of our time. Seriously. Read the section, answer the 7 or so questions, see if you can do it in the time allotted. We ask our kids to do this. Big. Freaking. Deal. Maybe (gasp!) we'll even learn something.

I left with my head spinning from more than the cold medicine I've been living on.

There it is, kids--just your average, everyday faculty meeting. A little learnin', a little complainin', and a whole lot of crazy.

1 comment:

Melmart said...

I can just see the grad class. Ok, class today we learn how to push the enter key on our keyboard with our left middle finger. On my for it...wait for it.....two and a half....THREE!!!! Aw dang, only 3 of you got it.

And I KNOW WHO SAID IT!!!!! I think I can guess anyway...

Oh, and the presenter bugged me too on your behalf and because her voice irritated me and because well..she shushed me...she was a control freak borg I tell you!a