Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Art of Surviving Teacher Inservice.

For those of you who always wished you could subject your 9th grade algebra teacher to the same agonizing boredom that was served to you in his/her class, this post should make you feel better.

I, like many other teachers across this great nation, have just completed two days of "teacher inservice"--aka "just desserts", "payback", "retribution."  Lord, it was ugly and painful.

Yesterday I went into the situation (a four-hour meeting) fortified with two cups of french-press coffee and a hearty bowl of fiber-filled cereal.  I brought my spanky-new notebook, calendar, and freshly sharpened Ticonderoga Number 2 Tri-Write.  I also brought my trusty iPhone just in case the girls at home needed me.  Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was ready to commence year number 34 as a professional educator and master teacher.  Things sort of went downhill after that.
The BEST pencil ever created.

During the first 55 minutes, I:

  • Filled in my daughter's volleyball schedule into my calendar.
  • Texted Eydie across the room to see where we were going to go for lunch.
  • Discovered that the school network filter was blocking my Facebook account.  Damn!
  • Made a shopping list for dinner.
  • Texted Jo to remind her about the dog's 2 PM pill.
  • Went to the bathroom because of the two cups of french-press and hearty bowl of fiber-filled cereal.  Took the very quickest route there, but the looooooong way back, networking with several colleagues en-route.
  • Started this blog.
  • Tried Facebook for a second time and then a third time.
  • Played two games of Hooked on Words on my phone.
  • Doodled my name in various scripts on the front of my spanky-new notebook.
  • Texted Eydie to see what she was doing.
In short I was "off task", "inappropriately socializing", and "making poor use of time and materials."  And then I had three more hours of the same.

During the afternoon we were permitted to "collaborate with colleagues"--aka "get stuff done."  I was fine in that department. I met with another teacher, and we actually completed a respectable amount of work--stuff that will tantilize the minds of our students next week.  

And then came this morning...

This was the Opening Day, when the entire staff of our district came together for the Big Send Off.  The Launch. The Kick Off. I will not subject you to a minute-by-minute, blow-by-blow reiteration of the mass of information that was thrown at our brains utilizing a narrow variety of mind-numbing methodologies (Teachers as well as students do not handle lecture well.). 

It was like dumping 10 square yards of topsoil into a 5" flowerpot. I was totally overwhelmed, so I totally shut down.  Rather than think of "educator effectiveness" or "integrity and ethics in the classroom", my brain bounced through the following:

  • Does our decline in Russian readership have anything to do with the Edward Snowden affair?  Does Vladimir Putin read the blog?  If so, has he "liked" us on Facebook?  Hi Vlad!  Can't we just get along?

  • Why am I thinking of mojitos at 9:15 in the morning?
  • How am I going to sell two cases (40 lbs.) of heirloom tomatoes at market this Saturday?  How can I effectively hawk their delicate sweetness to customers at $4 per pound?
  • Miley!  Seriously!!
  • Is that a protein bar Eydie is sneaking out of her purse?  Does she have another?  IS THAT A SNICKERS?????
  • I forgot to buy markers for my classroom.  I am boycotting Wal-Mart.  Can I get Eydie to go to Wal-Mart for me to pick up 10 packs?
  •  Would it be disruptive to crawl over 6 pairs of legs to get to the aisle and eventually the bathroom?  Perhaps I should give up the fiber-laden breakfast cereal...the two cups of french-press.
  • Where are we going for lunch? 
In short, is any of this really any different than the drivel that occupies the minds of my 8th graders as they tune out my scintillating presentation on helping verbs? Is my behavior any more justified?  Have I grown up at all since 1968?  Am I a total loser?

Would I be as fraught with such uncertainly and self-loathing if I had gone into orthodontia? 

Oh, did I mention that tomorrow is day three? 

Do you feel any better about that 9th grade algebra teacher? 

Prairie Sherry  


  1. Dear Prairie Sherry. You KNOW that I don't eat snickers. Especially after the munchkins debacle. Sincerely, Prairie Eydie