Sunday, August 2, 2009

Does Anyone Else Just Want to Get Work Done at the Beginning of the Year?

Every year, before school starts, we go back a week early. People who are not educators always tell me, "Oh, that must be so great to have a week to prep things before the kids start." People who are educators usually realize that we spend a lot of time in meetings and have only a little time to prep. Honestly, I wouldn't object to meetings if they were productive, but at my school we always end up doing something that is really stupid.

Last year we had to build "self esteem towers" out of building blocks, and the special area teachers were knocking them down for some reason. We had to dance to Achey Breaky Heart--mind you the dancing was not optional. The year before we had to look at all these pictures and compare our school and ourselves to the picture. I guess there must be some people who enjoy all of this stuff or they wouldn't keep doing it, but I don't know any of them. The principal gives a really painfully long speech. Last year it was about compassion and how she had lunch with some homeless guy. I would conservatively estimate that we waste at least two of our four work days total doing this kind of nonsense.

I just got our staff letter and this year's "theme" for teacher week is "catch an attitude of success." I can only imagine the kind of activities and lectures in store for us. Below is a list of phrases I expect to be ground into my head that week. I will let you know how many I am right about.
  1. Remember, you didn't get into teaching for the money. It is time to get back to the heart of things. (this is what will be the stock answer when legitimate budget issues come up)
  2. The attitude you choose everyday will be the atmosphere of your classroom. (there definately is some truth to this, but this will be the stupid answer given when people raise a concern about issues that might arise from whatever thing they're promoting; it becomes like a Peter Pan philosophy: think positive thoughts and nothing bad can happen)
  3. Your experience will be what you make it. (they will say this one all the time because there is a lot of bad news like bigger classes, no supply budget, possible pay cuts, reduction in support, and extra duty)
  4. Our neighboring districts are worse off. (they won't say this so directly, but they will frequently remind us that other districts are in a worse financial boat)

It's not that I don't think any of these things are true. They are. It is just that playing stupid games or listening to lectures about it doesn't change anything. I don't need to be told how to think about the problems we'll face this year. I would rather have time to prep. I think right now preparation might be the best medicine for us all.

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