Tag Archives: professional day

So professional!

I had a professional day yesterday at school. I signed up to go to a presentation on English language learning at one of the local high schools. I told very few people what my plans were – and only one of my colleagues asked me anyway.

I got the the venue early, got a great parking spot, leisurely wandered in to register, poured myself a coffee and picked up a slice of lemon loaf to go with the coffee. I found a quiet corner in which to station myself while I sipped and nibbled.

I did NOT pull out my phone. I people-watched. I saw exactly two people I knew. Neither of them saw me. I didn’t approach them.

I finished my snack and entered the theatre for the presentation. Because I was early, I got a primo seat. Again, I didn’t take out my phone to occupy myself, I people-watched instead. I saw one other person I knew. She didn’t see me and I didn’t approach her.

A woman came to my row and, breaking that unwritten theatre code that dictates that you do NOT sit right beside a stranger unless there is absolutely nowhere else to sit, sat right beside me. I sighed inwardly. I didn’t look at her.

The lecture began. The speaker was funny and engaging. I took lots of notes. I paid close attention to both what he was saying and to his power point up on the big screen behind him

We had a twenty-minute break. Because my seat was quite near the door, I slipped out quickly to get another coffee. I waited ten minutes or so to let the lineup die down, then went to the bathroom. I finished my drink and returned to the theatre in plenty of time for the second half of the lecture.

When it was over, I stopped at the bathroom again, then strolled back to my car. Because I took my time, there wasn’t much of a lineup to get out of the parking lot. I was home for lunch in record time.

That’s my idea of a good professional day: no stress, an interesting activity that actually applies to my teaching, a venue that’s not too far from home, and best of all, I didn’t have to be social and talk to anyone!

There are definitely times when I LOVE doing things by myself.

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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!

You win some, you lose some

Yesterday, it was a professional day and my local teachers’ association convention. As I told the kids, they didn’t have to go to school but we teachers did. They all thought that was pretty funny.

Many of these conventions are actually a waste of my time. One reason for this is that I’ve been teaching so damn long that I’m rather stuck in my ways and am not interested in anything new. But mostly it’s because my specialty is French Immersion kids with learning difficulties, and so there are only rare workshops that pertain to this rather odd niche that I have carved out for myself. Once in a while there is a workshop that deals with some facet of my job that I can adapt into French – which is what every French Immersion teacher must do a lot of the time at these events. But sometimes the best I can do is purchase some French stickers.

This year, however, there was a workshop on brain functioning that I thought would be interesting. It was all morning, which meant that I didn’t have to find another (probably useless) workshop for the day. Win!

As usual, parking at the venue was quite limited, so I got there very early and secured a parking spot for myself. Win! I leisurely went into the building and found the food. Win! I toured around the publishers’ displays, which weren’t too crowded yet. Win! – except that there was actually not a lot to see, and only a couple of things in French.

Eventually, I headed to the room in which my workshop was being held. It was just down the hallway from the food – more win! I walked in and heard my name being called. It was a co-worker of mine, someone with whom I get along extremely well, so I went up to sit and giggle with her. Win!

Just before the workshop started, a man with whom I have worked off and on for a few years came in to join his buddies who were sitting just down the row from me. I do not like this man. I find him pedantic and disorganized and socially inept and I don’t respect him. He’s one of those people who thinks he is hilarious and retells the same stories over and over, because you laughed politely the first time you heard them – twelve years ago. He also speaks in a very odd manner that I find extremely difficult to follow, so I tune out a lot of what he says anyway. But that doesn’t matter to him, he just keeps up his monologue, regardless.

And this man was now sitting two seats down from me. Not a win.

I ducked my head and hissed to my pal beside me, “Switch seats with me! Look who’s sitting there!”

She looked. She giggled. She knows the guy too. She shares my opinion. She switched.

“Don’t you dare lean back now!” I cautioned her. “If you do, he might glance over and see me! And I DON’T want to talk to him!”

The workshop started, and it was great. The material was fascinating, the presenter was organized and well-spoken. Yet another win!

At the break, my friend and I waited until the-man-we-were-avoiding left the room, then we left too, in search of coffee. The break was supposed to be 10 minutes, but apparently we have no sense of time, because when we came back, the door was closed. The guy standing there told us that the presenter was speaking again, so we’d have to wait for a break before he’d let us in. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait too long. He opened the door and ushered us in.

I went first, my friend close on my heels. The stairs were near the door, so that could be done fairly unobtrusively, but who was sitting right at the top of the stairs? The-man-we-were-avoiding. No avoiding him now! I scrambled up as fast as I could, and as I approached the top, everyone there started shifting around and standing up so that we could get past them as quickly as possible to regain our seats. I waved my hand at the-man-we-were-avoiding, whispering in a mock angry voice, “Hey! Move!” Fortunately, he couldn’t really say anything back to me at the time, but he did grin at me as he stood up to let me pass.

Except I couldn’t. My foot got stuck in between the corner of the step and the seat in the row ahead of us, right in front of the-man-we-were-avoiding. Who else does this kind of thing happen to?!? Only me!

I desperately wiggled my foot for what seemed like an eternity. My friend was smirking behind me and all these people (including one I had tried so hard to avoid) were standing up in the middle of a workshop while the speaker was talking, waiting for me to move past them to get to my own seat. I finally got my foot loose, and apologizing profusely, got to my seat as fast as I could. The whole situation was definitely not a win.

But at the end of a truly terrific three-hour workshop, I got out of the room safely, without having any type of exchange with the-man-we-were-avoiding. Win!

I will, however, have to see him on Monday. I’m sure I’ll hear all about the inglorious incident. Over and over and over and over and over ….