Monday, November 21, 2011

On Punctuality

For the first ten years I taught, I attended a lot of meetings. There were, of course, the new teacher meetings, required to maintain my city license. In these meetings I learned that the presenter was a dean, and that this was significant because he had aspirations to become an AP.

I learned it was important to get admin to notice you if you wanted to be an AP, and that as a dean you had frequent opportunities to remind the principal you had an AP license. I learned that every week for an entire year. You can imagine how thrilled I must have been.

Then, of course, we had PD. I learned that an aim was very important, and that it must be phrased as a statement. On a subsequent occasion I learned the aim was vital, and that it must be phrased as a question.

Then I learned that the important thing was portfolios, and that once kids had portfolios we could look at all their work right there and figure everything worth figuring. The next year they told us portfolios were out, a complete waste of time, and why would anyone bother with such a thing? The important thing, they told us, was a good motivation, which must be sexy, like Gina Lollobrigida (really).

Without a Gina Lollobrigida-style motivation, no kid would ever listen to a thing you said. Of course, the next year, that was out, and the important thing was constantly repeating "each, every and all" of you. This, they told us, would cause the kids to respond instantly, and there was absolutely no other way to reach kids.

Around year 11, a colleague told me that he was going to a three hour lunch rather than an afternoon session. But they take attendance at those things, I said. No one looks at it, said he, and went off. Nothing happened to him. I overslept the day of the next session, showed up an hour late, and nothing happened to me either. In fact, I may have overslept for just about every PD session for the next 10 years or so. This was odd, because I am never late on days when I actually teach. In any case, nothing happened.

Then we got a new principal. I overslept (only an hour or two), and got a counseling memo. When I signed it and brought it in, I told the secretary I was a little surprised. "You and the other 72 people who got the memo," she said, a little sarcastically in my view.

Since then, I've woken up on time for every PD day, as have my 72 colleagues.

Is it coincidence? Is there a moral to this story?

You tell me.
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