A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Professional development that develops glacially

It may just be the time of year, but I have been really frustrated with some of the staff development this year. We were given the task of reading a book on the racial achievement gap over the summer. I did this, even though this book was annoyingly condescending toward teachers in several spots. We then were supposed to meet about once a month to discuss ways of closing the achievement gap. This is ironic, given that our school has been commended for having a smaller gap than most of the schools in our area, but I still say that ANY gap is unacceptable.

But here's the problem. It is now almost December. We will not meet again for two months. And so far, all we've talked about is what our school is like.

For hours.

News flash: we have a mixture of socio-economic groups, a mixture of races, a mixture of kids requiring special services, and a mixture of academic abilities. We aren't rich, we aren't poor. We aren't all future Rhodes scholars or doctors' kids, but we aren't all going to be drop-outs, either.

Unfortunately, I am about to scream. Hours of meetings so we can role play and fishbowl about stuff we already knew. We have played cutesy "getting to know you" games and listen to truly abysmal poems read to us by one of the presenters. My heartstrings have been tugged into Gordian knots. We have dodged an attempt to dump a heaping load of guilt on those of us who have a family and/or who do not spend at least $2000 of our own money on our classrooms (gee, last year I spent $1999-- just missed it!). I must admit I suppressed a giggle when one of the GOB district administrators talked interminably about how he is an "oppressor." Noooooo. Really?

How to say this with a modicum of tact? The school year will be half over before we meet again, and we have yet to discuss ONE concrete strategy to begin to address this serious educational problem. I am beginning to think we are paying a bunch of money to a group of people who do not have any suggestions. I don't expect miracles, and I don't expect this problem to disappear overnight, but don't waste my time, please-- I'm up to my neck, already. Given the hours we've put into this, I was hoping for a little insight, at least.

At a minimum, keep the treacly vers libre to yourselves, please.

Ever felt like this? Vent! I feel better already.


At 11/23/05, 9:11 AM, Blogger JHS Teacher said...

I sympathize with you Ms. C.

Every year we have a new "focus." This year it's the NCCJ, and how we can make our school "inclusive.'

We made posters for an our at our last in-service, to see where we fall in the "acceptance" scale.

Grr... as in your school, no actual plans were made to change anything.


At 11/23/05, 2:47 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Posters! How nice! That's exactly the kind of stuff we have to do. For this I went to college and grad school?

Jeez, treat me like a grown up, at least, if you can't treat me like a professional.

Ooh, my verification word is sagaroo, which I am sure refers to my eyelids as I sit through these presentations.

At 11/23/05, 9:35 PM, Blogger GuusjeM said...

My district loves to open inservices with readings from the "chicken soup" books. Chicken Soup books make me want to barf. The mintute a presentor whips out their copy they have lost me.

At 11/24/05, 8:09 AM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Oh yeah, we've had reasding out of there before, too. But. STILL! Those sappy poems!

At my husband's work, they kept reading out of that Who Moved My Cheese? book, and until I bought him a copy of Who Cut the Cheese? he neqarly lost his mind.

At 11/24/05, 9:33 PM, Blogger Mike in Texas said...

We once had to spend six hours dissecting an essay on how to eat a tootsie pop. We had to learn how to color code each sentence as to whether it was an opening statement, supportive idea (1-4, you gotta follow the formulat) and closing sentences.

I wanted to stand up and scream, "You unwrap it and stick it in your mouth!!!"

I heard the district paid $1500 for the person who came and taught us to it.

At 11/26/05, 11:22 PM, Blogger Ms. H said...

Maybe someone should start a collaborative blog where teachers post their professional development horror stories and commiserate together.

At 11/27/05, 9:43 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Except we'd either riot or kick somebody...


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