Professionally speaking …

Next Monday is a professional day in my school district.

For anybody who doesn’t know what teachers do on professional days, let me assure you that the vast majority of us do, in fact, work. We just don’t work at teaching your kids, we do other stuff instead. As I usually explain to the elementary school-aged set, teachers go to school on those days to learn new things to do with the kids they teach. There is constant research on education and frequent changes to the provincial curriculum that we need to keep up with, as well as new resources with which to teach that curriculum. Our jobs are fairly mentally tiring, so sometimes we really benefit from a day on which we can concentrate on nothing more taxing than being introduced to a new math program that will be mandatory in our district next September. Yes, there are a lot of those types of workshops after school in every school district, but quite honestly, many of us simply don’t have the energy to really take in the information after teaching all day. And, new programs sometimes can’t be explained in a two-hour after-school session, they require an entire day.

Of course, professional days are more than just learning new teaching techniques or the latest research in some academic area: sometimes we attend workshops on topics that are relevant to us as people, not particularly to us as teachers. For example, if we’re near retirement, we may go to a seminar on how to prepare financially for that. Or if we are especially stressed by a difficult group of kids, we may take a yoga class. The idea is that a calm, relatively happy teacher is a better teacher – and really, that goes for every single job, don’t you think?

GuiltyAll propaganda aside, I only mention next Monday’s professional day because I am feeling a bit guilty. You see, two months ago, I booked a doctor’s appointment for next Wednesday, so I have to take a “sick” day to do that (which I am allowed to do, according to our contract). So that brings me down to actually teaching only three days next week. But then, this afternoon, I received an email inviting me, as an experienced French Immersion teacher, to come to an all-day meeting to explain to a group of newer teachers how I run my reading program and what materials I consider essential in my classroom. And when is this meeting scheduled? Next Tuesday. So I’m down to two days of actual teaching next week. Oh – almost forgot our school’s spring concert on Thursday afternoon. Now I’m at a day and a half.

It was already not good: tomorrow morning, I’m assessing the phonemic awareness of a group of kindergarten kids. On Friday, I’m at an all-day workshop for a special computer program that I run at my school for selected kids with reading difficulties. So this week, which started with the Victoria Day stat holiday, I am teaching only two and a half days.

Do the math: that’s four whole teaching days out of a possible ten in two weeks. That really doesn’t look very good. Not at all.

And that’s why I’m feeling somewhat guilty (and I’m not even Catholic!).

So I’m teaching the hell out of those four days! Those kids are gonna learn, learn, learn, whether they like it or not!

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7 responses to “Professionally speaking …

  1. “Iā€™m teaching the hell out of those four days!” – Love it!

  2. I’m with our other sister, you have no reason to feel guilty. I know you are a highly dedicated and responsible teacher. Hey, love, our family has to stick together.

    • I think it might be bothering me that all of these non-teaching days seem to be happening all at once. As you know, workshops and professional days happen throughout the school year, so for me to have all of this within a two-week period is a bit odd. But of course I’ll get over it. Thanks for the support, Big Brother! šŸ˜‰

  3. Why would you feel guilty? It’s not like you’re going to be sitting around twiddling your thumbs. Except maybe at the doctors since the wait to see those people is just stupid.

    • Very true. Besides, someone once told me that guilt was a useless emotion: if you’re guilty of something, correct it. If you’re not, then quit feeling guilty for nothing!

  4. Just don’t feel guilty too much. It sounds to me like you are making yourself very useful on those other days. Besides, I sure as heck don’t question your dedication to the job.

    • Teachers are very much under the microscope where I live, starting at the top, with our provincial government’s deep mistrust and disrespect of the profession. I suppose I’m just reacting to over a decade of that sort of working environment, feeling like I have to justify what I do within my job. But yes, I do have to remind myself that I WILL be useful on those days I’m not teaching – and I WILL be even more useful when I return!