Another School Year Has Begun

And you know what that means ....


Today we had the morning to work at our schools. I was very productive, putting locks on lockers, writing rosters, and getting a bad kid kicked out of my class. I also wrote two syllabuses syllabi outlines for classes, but was unable to print them because someone has been messing with the computers again. (That someone happens to be our Technology Guy, who was my American History teacher in the 11th grade, and every time he is at our school, our computers mysteriously mess up.)

In the afternoon, all of the teachers of Random County headed over to Mecca High School (so called because we at Random High often feel as though we should pray to them eight times a day). Imagine, if you will, a high school gym, which does not have that great an air-conditioning unit anyway, jam-packed with about two thousand people, none of whom want to be there, and the temperature outside is a cool 102 degrees. Fun, right?

Every year we have to go through this, and every year we all complain about it and call it a waste of time, and every year we are overruled by the superintendent, who apparently loves our county-wide "pep rally." Only, guess who was not present today.

So here's how the program goes:

1. Welcome
- I found this to be just okay, because there were a lot of excuses made about the superintendent being absent and also the speaker didn't seem to know what he was doing.

2. Pledge of Allegiance
- This went well. We all knew the words.

3. National Anthem, sung by students from County Seat High School
- This was wonderful. I was ready to leave when they were through.

4. Address by the president of the local teachers' union
- About forty percent of the people present, including yours truly, were not union members. Also, she talked FOR.EV.ER. The natives began to get restless.

5. Slide show of pictures from the previous school year
- They always have 1356093467 pics of elementary schools, and 3 pictures of high schools. It's completely irrelevant and also boring. I already lived through last year, thanks, let's move on.

6. Song medley by the summer camp kids
- I will grant you that the kids were cute, but come ON. They sang songs from Broadway, which were neither motivational nor educational. I don't understand why we had a concert forced upon us when we could have been preparing for our classes which we start when? Oh, TOMORROW.

7. Introduction of guest speaker
- It was obvious to me that the introducer had no idea who the speaker was. I was interested to learn, however, that the speaker is apparently one of few people in the world who has earned the designation of "Professional Speaker," because, how do you get that? I wanna do that. I speak every day; how come I'm not a professional?

8. Motivational speech
- Okay, I have to tell you this: teachers are the toughest audience to speak to. It's because we're used to being the ones talking, and also we cannot keep ourselves from mentally correcting a person's grammar, which sort of causes the mind to wander and we don't really pay attention. In addition, today, we would all preferred to have been back at our own schools, doing some much-needed work on our classrooms and preparing for our students' arrival when? TOMORROW.
-Not to mention the fact that, for a "Professional Speaker" our guy had very poor articulation. This, coupled with a meager sound system and the horrible acoustics that all gymnasiums have, reduced the man's speech to (approximately), "Hibbedy gibbedy." I seriously had no idea what he was saying, so I was not motivated at all.
-Well, in truth, I was motivated to take out a piece of paper, write RANDOM COUNTY SCHOOLS at the top, and find as many words as I could using just those letters. I challenged myself and used words with four letters or more, but I still filled up the whole page and that guy was still talking.
-AND, apparently the "Professional Speaker" had never been taught how to READ HIS AUDIENCE because it wasn't long before people all over the gym were talking to each other and completely ignoring him. Not whispering either, talking in normal voices. Yet still he blathered on, as though he had all the time in the world. Which he did, because we were basically a captive audience; attendance required (otherwise nobody would go).
-I forgot to say, he is a LAWYER. With no teaching experience.
-Mrs. M, who was sitting next to me, said, "I'd pay him a dollar ninety-eight for this speech."
-My dad, also in attendance, said, "I bet they paid him two thousand dollars for that."
-I intend to write a blistering evaluation. Because it's anonymous.

9. Closing remarks
-Blessedly short, because the closer is a former teacher and knows how much we all hate the county-wide inservice.

And then I was OUT. OF. THERE. I probably made it to my car in 6.5 seconds, but it took another twenty minutes to get out of the parking lot.

What a colossal waste of time, y'all. You would think that people who are so concerned with our county's AYP and national standings and state test scores and who desperately want to be known as the best school system in the state would realize that we teachers do not need to be motivated by outsiders.

We teachers are motivated by our students, by the fact that it's a new year, by our colleagues, by new strategies we may have learned, by the school supplies aisle at WalMart. We are NOT motivated by lawyers or slideshows or Broadway showtunes.

And now I have to conclude, because this was just a short break from my preparations for school, which starts when? Oh, TOMORROW.


Lady S said...


We have what I like to call the "Back to School Party", it is the only way I can get through. Last year I brought my laptop and my principal sat next to me.

I started to write a long comment, but I decided to post it as an entry on my blog instead.

Mei said...

I look forward to reading that, Lady S.
I'll post my evaluation form tomorrow.

em said...

We have a similar and equally wasteful event in our district called FallStaff. Mandatory, of course. At least reading your account left me feeling as if we (meaning so many educators!) are in this together.

Mei said...

I have heard from many teachers on this topic, and it seems to me that many Boards of Ed. need to realize that an event such as this wastes both money and time that could be better spent elsewhere.

Dave Shearon said...

But what would Boards of Education do then? Trust teachers?! Maybe give them time to collaborate as colleagues toward improving what the system sells (i.e., lessons and other school experiences)? But, but ... what kind of system would that produce. Well, actually, one improving session by session, year by year, toward some sustained excellence!

Mei said...

This week I'm to learn how to use the electronic gradebook during inservice. I've only been using it for THREE YEARS.
The really bad part is being in there with people who still have trouble turning on a computer. They say things like, "I remember when a computer was the size of a room!" And I get all my stuff finished before they manage to log on, but I still have to sit there for the entire session. It's maddening.

Jessica said...

I guess I'm lucky. We had convocation today. While there were the recycled pleasantries, jokes, and introductions, I was interested and entertained overall. (Maybe b/c my picture was used in one of the slides?) Our speaker was great. Ron Clark from that movie on TNT. We then had a short, but informative staff meeting. Tomorrow, we are being trained on some new software, and then meeting with our team teachers. I feel for you, but at the same time, I feel a bit better about my situation! Sorry your inservice was crappy. :(


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