That was fast, wasn’t it? (If you start after Labor Day, piss off.)
I’ve been in a literal and figurative fetal position most of the day. I’ve been receiving condolences from former colleagues. Tomorrow we begin. One week of 75-85% bullshit coming right up, sir. Then the kids come.
I don’t know what you do at your school, but we have one full week with all the teachers there for a combination of touchy-feely, get to know each other, team-building bullshit and indoctrination. The other 15-25% is actually time to work and get ready for school.
There will be A LOT of new people. As far as I know, my department will have three of the nine who finished last year. (At two years and one day of service, I will be the longest-serving member of my department.) Our department is particularly troubled, but the rest will be in the 40-50% turnover range. That’s why, I guess, they feel like we have to do all the bullshit team-building, etc…because there is a brand new fucking team every year.
So here’s what we do…
We start each day with a Quaker reading. We stand in a circle, about 100 people, and somebody reads a touchy-feely quote about teachers or children or puppies or some crap. Then everybody stands around like an asshole for a little while until somebody finally says something about the quote. (“This reminds me that we, as teachers, have an obligation to…whatever”.) Then somebody else says something and so on. Eventually the pauses between these reflections become awkward and the facilitator says something like “we will now close the Quaker reading.” The new people won’t know what to think. But they will probably think it’s kind of cool. They will participate. We do this every morning.
I thought it was kind of cool at first. But then you realize, in about a week, that the touchy-feely shit lasts for exactly one week. It’s a trick. After that, it’s technocracy run wild.
But for that week…
We will do silly role-playing exercises.
We will think; share with our partners; share with the group.
We will follow strict protocols for discussion. (Actually, this goes on all year.)
We will do gallery walks. (These are the worst.)
We will share about our heroes and mentors.
We will dissect, in three different administrative groupings, three different mission statements.
We will be forced to read them aloud.
We will be compelled to comment on what they mean to us.
We will develop “norms” to aid us in communicating with one another in meetings and working together in general. This will appear to be a freewheeling democratic exercise. Here is what the norms will be (not necessarily in this order):
1) Speak the truth; (this is sometimes “speak the truth in love“, but that’s often too much for some people in the group;
2) Watch your air time (don’t talk too much);
3) There will be something about keeping the best interests of children in mind;
4) There will be something about being respectful;
5) There will be something about collaboration;
6) There will be something about being positive;
7) There will be something about being prepared or working hard;
8) There will be something about mutual accountability;
9) Don’t be an asshole.
It’ll be something like that and everybody will have to do this three times with some administrator writing it on a flip chart and then telling us that they’ll type it up and email it to us. (Some of the new folks will write them down anyway.) You’re going to email me some shit my kindergarten teacher said? My eight-year-old could have run this meeting.
Man, I hate to start off feeling this negative. But every time I think about how stupid this is going to be, I think about a friend who is going to help me through it and then suddenly remember that they won’t be there. Not that I won’t have friends. But most of the people I was tightest with are long gone and glad.
Love you guys…I’ll let you know how it’s going later in the week. Meanwhile, pray for me.
Mr. Teachbad is almost embarrassed to say how dead on he was after only the first day.