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

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Eight-legged Administrator Rides Again

It's amazing how bosses everywhere seem to think that meetings are actually productive uses of ANYONE'S time. Faculty meetings are no exception. When I first started blogging, there was a great blog called "The Endless Faculty Meeting." I loved it because if faculty meetings were that cutting, we might actually enjoy them.

In one school in which I taught, we had faculty meetings on Fridays after school. It's amazing that someone didn't throw a ninja star made out of overhead projector parts at her head. You can already guess that this idea occurred to at least one person trapped there every other Friday.

My favorite thing is when we have faculty meetings on the shank end of parent-teacher conferences, and the PTB allow the tech dude Mr. Babbage (who smells like what I imagine Snoop Dogg probably smells like, if you get my drift) twenty minutes of every single meeting, even if he has nothing productive to say. So far, the only thing that Mr. Babbage HAS said every single meeting is this: "Well, this isn't working right now, but if it WAS working, this is what you'd see...." and then a fifteen minute wall of sound complete with reverb about what the imaginary techie thing might look like. I am tempted to say: "If it won't work on your brand-new MacBook Pro, it sure as HELL isn't going to work on my ten-year-old iMac," but that would then prolong the meeting, so many of us amuse ourselves by playing BuzzWord Bingo and messing around on our smartphones. I personally have sought to perfect a fixed expression in which I unfocus my eyes and meditate with a faint smile on my face.

I was right in the middle of a mantra when I suddenly came back to earth with a bang in the last meeting. First, some backstory: we have the bottom part of an eight-legged administrator on staff (Mr. Leckmichhorst) who haunts the main office, filling our principal's head with loads of sweet nothings for hours on end. He sucks up as only one whose vast incompetence and mental inertia is matched by his naked ambition to rise into the lofty ranks of middle-management can suck up. Only if he started biting on his pinkie finger while wearing a leer and a Nehru jacket could this performance be any more perfect. After his tete-a-tetes at the feet of the Throne of Power, he then comes back and regales his clan of hyenas with how stupid the principal is. Leckmichhorst's unintentional impression of the late Alexander Haig claiming control of the White House is spot on, I have to admit, and just as delusional.

Imagine my surprise when Mr. Leckmichhorst rose upon his hindlegs at the podium and started talking about how our school was going to be absolutely TRANSFORMED by adopting a new behavioral management system that rewards the kiddies with gold star stickers and that utilizes weird acronyms like PAHTOOTY or DERRIERE or something like that. His assurance that this NEW! FABULOUS! SYSTEM! wouldn't put any more work on the plates of teachers was truly jaw-dropping in its disingenuous brilliance. We were led to believe that we would practically be able to play SkeeBall in all the halos sprouting above kids' heads under this system, and that all the old referral forms that would be henceforth obsolete could create a bonfire from that would be visible to astronauts on the International Space Station. There wasn't even a whiff of ozone detectable as this dude sat up there and lied his face off promoting a plan he has ruthlessly mocked for months. So that, in his own words, "I can get a $30,000 raise next year!"

Wow. What a performance-- and just when Oscar nominations are being handed out. But you can't save people from their own moral squishiness OR their own naivete, so back to the meditation.

Om. Om, dammit.

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At 3/4/10, 7:20 AM, Blogger Margaret English said...

I *hate* meetings. We have at least three every week and it is becoming increasingly obvious that staff are spending their time thinking about the many other, productive things that they could be doing rather than listening to the bosses make elaborate plans to shift blame. Rant over.

At 3/4/10, 10:40 PM, Blogger Liz Ditz said...

Congratulations. I googled "Leckmichhorst" to see what German or Dutch ... uhm ... epithet it could possibly be...and all I got was this post.

Running meetings well & productively is an art. Sorry it's a lost one in your neck of the woods.

At 3/5/10, 8:01 AM, Blogger 習慣一人 said...


At 3/5/10, 8:30 AM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Liz -- It is a combination of three German words which mean "Bite me, moron!" The one I actually call him in my head is too profane, and I'm working on that.

At 3/5/10, 8:42 PM, Blogger Lightly Seasoned said...

Our Principal does this huge 180 slide ppt every year in August that we all sit through with relative good humor because we have very few staff meetings during the year. Not a bad strategy.

BTW, we've had very good results with PBIS, but it isn't easy to implement and it does put more work on the teacher. However, if you're the sort who tends to handle issues without referrals anyway, it isn't much different. The trickiest part is getting consistency from the whole staff. Oh, we dropped the goofy acronym. The kids mocked it without mercy even though they had nothing special against the behavior standards.

At 3/6/10, 8:49 AM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Everything they come up with puts more work on the teacher. And then they make us sit through pointless meetings. I see no point in selling a formal system to describe what you should do anyway.

The problem IS consistency, but rather than address those who are inconsistent-- and administrators in my district are at the TOP of that list!!!!-- they shove more silly stuff down my throat. And on my own time, officially.


At 3/6/10, 8:26 PM, Blogger Lightly Seasoned said...

The problem is always consistency, and it is always more work for the teacher. The question is whether it makes life easier in the long run. When we were first told we were doing it (by central office), I engaged in a series of now legendary practical jokes in protest. (Yes, my admins put up with a lot from me.) I gotta admit, though, it has improved things.

At 3/10/10, 10:06 AM, Blogger Ald said...

Actually, it's not 'bite' but 'lick'.

Notwithstanding that, I read your posting here with interest. I'm not an American, I'm Belgian, but I happen to be a teacher too. Though I work as an ICT-coordinator for the schools in my city. What strikes me, is that this 'tone' you manage to set in this posting is exactly the same as the tone of conversations I pick up daily in the teacher's room in 'my' schools. This kinda sour, cynical whining that gets under your skin and will spread depression for free if one is unfortunate enough to be exposed regularly, even in small doses.

I'm not sure wheither I depicted this accurately enough, but my English stretches only so far, not being a native speaker and all that, you will forgive me I hope.

For your own sake and the children's, please consider to stop working in schools?

At 3/17/10, 10:20 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Really, Ald? If I call a boot-licking toady what he is, that is "cynical whining?" Now, I am not sure if that translates into Flemish or French or Dutch or German, but let me try perhaps to express the point a bit more clearly:

"Soyez prudent au sujet de juger n'importe qui jusqu'à ce que vous ayez éprouvé leur perspective. Peut-être vous êtes trop sensible puisque vous n'êtes plus un professeur de salle de classe."


"Voorzichtig ben over het beoordelen van iedereen tot u hun perspectief hebt ervaren. Misschien bent u te gevoelig aangezien u niet meer een klaslokaalleraar bent."


"Seien Sie über das Beurteilen jedermann vorsichtig, bis Sie ihre Perspektive erfahren haben. Möglicherweise sind Sie zu empfindlich, da Sie nicht mehr ein Klassenzimmerlehrer sind."

Bon chance! Vaarwel! Tschüss!


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