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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The School Day, Part I: Morning Meeting

I walk into the building after the mile walk from my house to school with my gym bag over one shoulder and my computer/textbook bag over the other. I take off my scarf and toboggan (not the sled, but the winter hat) and make my way around the metal detector and into the main office. I check the clock to see that I'm only seven minutes early to work, which will undoubtedly mean that I will be late to my morning meeting because I need about ten minutes to print handouts in my room on the second floor and run them downstairs to leave them in the to-be-copied tray in the main office.

I sign in and head down the hall, up the stairs, and to my room. I unlock the door, dump my stuff on the floor behind my desk, turn on my computer, plug in my USB, pull up the handouts I created the previous night and print out a copy of each. I fill out the instruction slip for the copy guy and paperclip it to each handout. I leave my jacket on my chair and make my way out the door back to the main office to leave my handouts to be copied. On my way there, I see my administrator who gives me the stinkeye because she knows I'm headed in the opposite direction of the meeting she's holding and it's already two minutes past the time it was supposed to start. Nonetheless, I smile and say good morning. She looks at her cell phone.

(Why is that woman so mean to everyone?)

I enter my morning meeting five minutes late after dropping off my copies and find a seat. The tenth-grade teachers are discussing the final exams that we've created for each of our classes. Our administrator looks pissed because a lot of people didn't bring their tests. I run to my classroom and grab a test I created over World War I (not a final exam because I haven't had time to make one yet). I'm asked to follow a incredibly vague protocol that requires that we share each others' exams and decide what we can learn from each other.

We look at each others' exams without any real idea about what we're supposed to be taking from this. After about five minutes, we begin to talk to each other about the exams, but not with any direction. We don't know what the point of this is. She hasn't given us an objective or explained how this is going to practically help us. So we make comments to thwart the awkwardness of sitting across from colleagues we don't know on any sort of personal level.

"I'm sorry, I can't really give you much feedback on this test. It's been a while since I took geometry."

"Yeah. Your World War I test looks good, but I bet I would've failed it."

This worthless discussion goes on for about three minutes, and then we inevitably begin to discuss things we're not supposed to be discussing.

"Did you get a chance to go to the basketball game last night? You should have seen Mr. Hackett; he was going crazy."

"Haha, really? That's crazy."

*Silence. Glance at test. Worry about being awkward.*

Our administrator looks annoyed as she looks at her cell phone's stopwatch. Her face seems to say, "How does the principal expect me to raise any test scores with this group of teachers. They can't even follow a simple protocol." Of course, none of do what she's expecting because we don't really know what she wants, what the point of this is, or why we can't be preparing for our day instead of being treated like children.

The stopwatch goes off and our administrator solicits our thoughts on the protocol.

"What can we learn from this? What can we take back to our classrooms?"

*Silence. Look at different teachers in hopes of a response that will satisfy her.*

(Ugh, what can I say that would sound like I actually got something out of this.)

"Yes. Mr. Shrouder."

"Well, I learned that the math department is testing on a few ideas that I attempted to cover with my science students about a month ago. Maybe if, in the future, we coordinated our courses a little more, we could help the students understand this a little better."

(Yeah, like that will ever happen. When will we have time to coordinate our courses when we spend our mornings in meetings, our days in the classroom, our planning periods grading, our afternoons tutoring, and our evenings planning?)

"Good, Mr. Shrouder. That's a great idea. Who else?"

"I guess I noticed that a few people are trying to test on critical thinking skills."

"And how can we use that information to better our instruction?"

(Good lord. Did she plan this meeting five minutes before it started? When is her IMPACT evaluation?)

"Well we could spend some time collaborating on how to better teach those skills."

"That's right. Let's make that a goal for next semester."

(Hahaha. Oh my god; are you serious?! Do we even know what critical thinking skills are, specifically? Do you know how to teach them, Ms. Administrator? Do you know that a lot of studies have said that there is no such thing as a "critical thinking skill." Whatever you say, Ms. Administrator, but we all KNOW that is never going to happen. Anyone writing this down?)

Our administrator straightens her jacket, stands up, puts on her most professional face and says,

"We're all aware of the tremendous work we have ahead of us. It's our duty as educators to do everything in our power to close the achievement gap. Let's remember to incorporate what we learned here today into our everyday classrooms in order to achieve this mission. Also, don't forget to hand Mr. Arnold your tardy logs. We need to be making every effort to stay in constant communication with these students' parents."

I take my World War I test and walk back to my room. There are thirteen minutes until first period begins, my planning period.

(I will use nothing I learned in that meeting because I didn't learn anything. I guarantee you that a) we will NEVER talk about that again, and b) she made that protocol up sometime this morning because she was struggling for some activity for our required meeting. There went thirty minutes of my life.

Remember when you heard about having morning meetings every day to discuss student progress and address curriculum? Remember how great it sounded, like this was some super school that did everything you thought a great school should? Hahaha.....what a joke....)

5 comments:

  1. Sounds like our morning collaborative on Friday...

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  2. sounds like our morning collaborative.. EVERY DAY

    Still waiting for the data wise process to be used

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  3. Sounds exactly like our morning collaboration meetings, except we don't have printers connected to our cheap laptops (the only computers DCPS provided to us) NOR do we have anyone that will make copies for us.

    But, as we have been scolded about continually, we must NOT come late to this "very important professional development opportunity" simply because we might need to prepare for teaching.

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  4. Oh how I do not miss those pointless, unplanned meetings with Ms. Administrator. I will never understand why were never allowed to use that meeting time to actually COLLABORATE as professionals. Well I do know. Because allowing teachers to collaborate as professionals means that Administrators are not in control of what is being done, and that just can't happen. Only Administrators know what is best. Blech.

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  5. Absolutely dead on! Stepford is a reality.

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