Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What Fresh Hell Is This?

To quote Dorothy Parker, when it comes to teacher in-services, the phrase that comes to mind is “What Fresh Hell is This”.

Today we all found out.

The background: The children arrive next Wednesday. Rooms need to be set up, bulletin boards done, welcome letters written, PR folders read, lesson plans created – the treadmill is beginning to rock n’ roll.

We’d spent the morning gathered together reviewing test scores and welcoming the new teachers and such like. And while we might begrudge the time we certainly understand the reason why we were gathered together.

At 1pm we are ordered all to present ourselves, along with half the employees (2,300 other souls), for a “Convocation”. Attendance is mandatory for everyone from the custodians to the principals.

A bit more background: My school is at the far east end of the district, the “Convocation” is being held at a coliseum at the far west end of the district. Between Point A and Point B is 15 miles of seriously under construction interstate that is normally bumper to bumper, no matter what the time of day. It’s a 45 minute commute and gasoline is currently hovering at $3 a gallon.

We arrive. A quick glance at the audience (and the empty seats) shows that the word “mandatory” has many different meanings to many different people.

One of the high school orchestras serenades us. We listen to a rather rambling speech about all the important people who have graduated from our district and the important people whose children attend them now. For some reason the name of one of our alumni, who was recently in the news is not mentioned. Granted, he was killed in a home invasion and granted he was doing the invading but it was newsworthy.

An elementary school chorus sings a couple of numbers. The 2006 Valedictorian rehashes his speech. I didn’t care for this sort of thing when my own children were involved, never mind children I don’t know. We listen to another rambling speech. The person to the right of me is sleeping, as is the person 2 seats over. Several people are text messaging, others are whispering. I play solitaire on my PDA. The person to the left of me is jealous; he wishes he had a PDA too. The speech rambles on. And on. And on.

We all then get to watch a video. The powers that be seem to have forgotten that the district has the technology to broadcast live video over the internet and has their own in house TV channel. The noise wakes my neighbor. We create a TAKS math problem:

2,300 hundred district employees spend 45 minutes en route, plus 2 hours sitting through and 45 minutes returning from a “Convocation”. The employees are paid approximately $25 an hour. How much did this event cost?
  1. To much, teachers are overpaid and get the summer off

  2. Not enough, teachers are underpaid

  3. $230,000

  4. Priceless – how can one put a price on the joy of bonding with one’s colleagues?

The correct answer? Well, that would depend on the point of view of the person answering the question! What do you think it is?


Library Mama said...

Hello! Hello!

It is truly a pleasure to meet another elementary school librarian.

I notice too that you have added me to your blogroll. Thank you so much! If it's alright with you, I will add you next time I update my -roll.

Hear, hear, on inservices. I think the worst one we ever sat through on our first day of school was all about "Emotional Intelligence". It was so brutal!

Good luck with back-to-school. I don't start back for a couple of weeks yet, so I'm determined to enjoy these last few days of freedom.

Anonymous said...

Well said.

I don't mind inservice as long as it's useful, but I am losing patience. Especially with the cutesy-wootsy team building activities.

At the welcome back breakfast at my school, they made us create paper dolls that describe what we do... so grown women (and men) spent a half hour cutting and pasting to create dolls that wear many hats, have big hearts, ears that listen, blah blah blah.

Now the paper dolls are on display in the cafeteria.

I think secretly, someone just wanted to get us to decorate the bulletin board so that they could cross it off their list.

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

I can honestly say after reading many of the posts about begining of the year inservices I guess I have it better than some. Ours is a faculty meeting that usually is more of a reunion of sorts. We cover new procedures that have changed and we do cover the same old ethics, suspected child abuse, discipline procedures type things but overall its fairly painless. Hope you have a fantastic year!

butterfly angel said...

Argh!!! Overall our week of inservice went well EXCEPT for the workshop on how to take Cornell Notes. This is an important facet of the AVID program, so you want to convince your colleagues to 'get with the program' and use it. Well... talk about glazed eyes, fidgettin, napping, you name it, it happened. Even our Fearless Leader couldn't take it. He tried to convince her to quit but she told him: "NO! Let me finish." He then threw up his hands.. I would love to have been the fly on the wall for the *chat* he had with her later. Can you believe she is one of our school counselors? As a form of damage control, we will spend our faculty meeting Tuesday afternoon reviewing Cornell Notes.

Cornell Notes is a way to teach students to take notes and then reflect on what they learned. This helps them to use "Higher Order Thinking Skills" They were developed by a professor @ Cornell University who noticed that his students weren't taking quality notes. I know his last name is Pauk and these were started in 1964.

Sorry about the long comments...
Have a great year!

landismom said...

Yeah, that does sound pretty hellish. Hope the bulletin board tacking is more fun than solitaire on your PDA!

Nancy said...

I do not miss those "first of the new school year" inservices. First, they'd keep you from doing the things that needed to be done before the kids got there (so that most of us end up staying until very late to do them) and then they'd insult our intelligence with those cutsy "motivational strategies".


Dree said...

I'm starting to think I have it pretty good. Our opening faculty meeting is just our faculty, so it's only about 15 people. It's very casual and comfortable and relaxing. I keep reading about all these ridiculous in-services that other teachers have to put up with. Yikes.

Anyway, hope you have a great school year ahead of you!

Library Mama said...

Just received our agenda for Thursday, our first day back.

Mercifully, both teacher days are spent in meetings and preparation at our own school. No Division-wide inservice - hooray!

booklogged said...

Perfect title! It amazes me that they want you to teach glorious lessons but allow no time for planning. I received word 3 days before school started that night school was moving into our building and wanted my room. So I had to move to the empty room 2 doors down. I ask you, wouldn't it make more sense for night school to move into the empty room. School administrators are short on sense, have you noticed?

Hope you have a good year.


"What fresh hell is this?" Perfect title for back to school meetings. At least we can look forward to the kids next week.