Tag Archives: meetings

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!

Administrate THIS!

We have a new administrator at school this year, and this has taken some getting used to. This person is fairly new to the job, and seems to be trying to make their mark with the school board. They are sticking their nose into just about everything that has been running quite well for the six years that I have been at my school, and probably long before then, as well. This person is constantly making “suggestions” that we do things a different way, particularly in my area of specialty, which is learning support for kids who are having difficulties in reading. I’ve been feeling quite micro-managed, and for a person who has been doing her job for thirty some-odd years and is also rather headstrong and stubborn (who, me?!), this is not a good combination.

I did keep my negative thoughts to myself, then a few started to leak out with a few trusted colleagues, and lo and behold, they were feeling just as annoyed as I was! In fact, I ending up going out for dinner with one of the women I work with, and we discovered that we have very similar teaching philosophies and that we both mightily resent our new administrator’s meddling ways. We ended up deciding that the situation bugged us enough that we thought we should sit down with this administrator and find out what their view on teaching is, and see if we can come to some compromise – or at least some understanding.

Naturally, we have not yet done this (the best-laid plans …), but did it ever feel good to connect with a like-minded person! And since she and I had that talk, I just feel so much lighter and less bothered! Everything that administrator has said or done since then has just rolled off my back – except for when they suggested that we have some additional meetings to our regular twice-monthly ones. There was silence in the room. WTF??? I thought. I’m the one who gets the requests for discussion items at those meetings. I’m the one who sets the agenda. I’m the one who takes the notes. I’m the one who distributes the notes and ensures that the necessary paperwork gets done and sent to the right places. I’m the effing chairperson – it’s pretty much my effing meeting!

I took a deep breath and said, “No, I’m not in favour of that. I’m already busy, and I really can’t do more than two big meetings a month.” My like-minded pal said, “I’m not going to be here on that first day you suggested anyway – I have a doctor’s appointment.” Everyone else around the table – four or five people – said absolutely nothing.

The administrator gracefully backed down and there will be no additional meetings …

… unless I hand over my binder with all the meeting information in it and let that administrator take over as chairperson.

Which is not effing likely.

I am a bit of a control freak, I’m told.

First world problems

I had to go to a meeting today, at a place I had never been before. I was told that parking might be a bit of an issue, that the carpark was still under construction, since the building has only been operational for a couple of months. I wasn’t exactly sure how long it would take me to get there from my school, but I knew that even if I arrived late, there were likely going to be people arriving after me. It’s always like that with this group.

I did arrive late, by about fifteen minutes. I wasn’t sure at all where to park, so I drove into one gravelly, beat-up parking area. It was rather far away from the building my meeting was in, so I carried on into the next carpark, which was only partly paved as well. There were a few designated visitor spots available – but naturally, they were all taken. There were some 15-minute spots – which were all taken. There were some drop-off spots – again, all taken. There were marked spots for couriers – yep, taken. The only spots available were marked for executives, and I am most definitely NOT one of those, so I didn’t dare take one. A bit further back, there were a couple of vehicles parked beside a mound of dirt. I pulled in there.

As I got out of my car, a guy wearing a fluorescent vest emblazoned “Security” yelled at me.

“You can’t park there!”

I looked up at him. “And where exactly AM I supposed to park?” I asked crossly.

“There’s another parking lot over there.” He gestured at the gravelly, beat-up carpark that I had originally driven into, the one that was pretty far away from where I needed to be.

I sighed, got back into my car and drove back to the far-away carpark, muttering all the way. How come SOME people could park closer but I couldn’t? Not fair!

I parked again, got out of the car again, then headed back along the narrow road joining the two parking areas. I was walking along, minding my own business, when suddenly a construction worker on the other side of a yellow construction fence shouted at me, VERY loudly.

“HEY!”

I ignored him and kept walking.

“HEY!”

I looked at him blankly. I kept walking.

“HEY!”

Now I glared at him as I continued walking towards him.

“WHAT?!” I yelled back at him.

“GET AWAY FROM THERE!”

Huh? Get away from where? Oh – from the yellow construction fence, you mean? It is forbidden to walk alongside yellow construction fences? Really? When did that law come into effect? True, there was some big machine ripping apart some old building behind that yellow construction fence, but even so, it was on the opposite side of the fence from me. I was nowhere near it. I was not endangering it, nor was it endangering me. There were a couple of metres between me and the fence, then between the fence and the bulldozer or whatever it was. The man yelling so viciously at me was much closer to the bulldozer than I could ever be, and even he was well out of its reach.

This pissed me off.

“You might try a PLEASE!” I screamed at the man, as I slowly and deliberately meandered to the other side of the narrow road.

He again gestured angrily at me and at the bulldozer, while yelling something unintelligible at me.

I stopped and waved my own arms around, staring him down. I shouted again, “You might try a PLEASE!”

He again yelled something that I didn’t quite comprehend, but he turned away. Ha! I resumed walking toward my building, but I shouted one last time, “Try saying PLEASE!”

I calmed down by the time I (finally!) arrived where I was supposed to be, and of course, I was one of the first people to get there – and remember, I was already late. This is one reason I try to blow off as many meetings as I can of this particular group: we have never, ever, ever started on time. Another reason is that we have never, ever, ever finished on time, which is actually worse.

Then I went to get myself a coffee. I really would have preferred some vodka or at least some Bailey’s for the coffee at that point, but alas, there was none to be had at this venue. Caffeine was going to have to be my afternoon pick-me-up.

I added my sugar and my non-dairy creamer (not my favourite, but I cannot stand black coffee, so I had to). I went to stir them – but there were no stir sticks. I asked if anyone knew where to get them, but nobody did.

I stirred my sugar and non-dairy creamer into my coffee with the end of a pen. Which wouldn’t write afterward. Yes. I ruined a pen for coffee.

And the meeting ended up being pretty much pointless, too.