Yesterday was our first day of teacher in-service training to kick off the new school year. It is typically a day that is not so bad. We are always served a wonderful breakfast by the district, have a few meetings to pump us up for teaching/ note upcoming changes, and then we eat a lunch served by our town's ministerial alliance. But, this year seemed to have something else entailed. Evidently a little mess-up occurred in one of the district school's involving section 504 of Title 2. So after our catered lunch we returned to more meetings, which were to last 2 hours (dismissing us at 3:00). Our meetings were given by attorneys and were basically a talk on keep you tail covered in every situation, no matter what you may think would actually be best. Basically we were lectured on what not to do for over the promised 2 hours. The first lecturer, although she was highly informative, was BORING!!! She had come from Kansas City, which is a little over 2 hrs. from our town, to read from the power-point presentation she had created. I'm sorry but a room full of educators is capable of reading a bulleted list, so save yourself the trouble and give us either less info on the slides or more in your speech.
After that presenter was finished our Special Education director came onto the stage and introduced the next attorney. However, this was done in a way extremely rude to our previous presenter, as she stated something along the lines of this next presenter won't make us fall asleep and will really be entertaining... which by the way was not the case. I'm not even sure if the previous presenter was out of the building yet, which is why there was an audible gasp from most teachers in the room from the lack of tact of an administrator. Anyway, the next presenter was in agreement that the first presenter was not very good, so she went back over all of the 504/Title 2 information that the first attorney had given us. By the time 3:00 hit, the lady wrapped up her insight on what to do for Title 2 requirements and I was thinking "Finally, this torture is over!" WRONG!!! That's when the statement of "But what I'm here to talk to you about today is grievances." What?! At our dismissal time you are only beginning to discuss what you came here for? You can't possibly be serious! But she was.
Several things happened during the course of these presentations. One is that the teachers in the room became very disengaged. A lot of the information was really about administrative decision and therefore was irrelevant to us. Second, because of this disengagement the TEACHERS began acting out! Can you believe what our students would have thought if they could watch us in the same situation. Teachers pulled out cell phones and began surfing the web, texting, checking voicemail, and one teacher even took a phone call after her phone (which had not been placed on silent!) rang. The teacher next to me was doodling little pictures and creating a shopping list. I was continually pulling Altoids out of my purse and popping multiple mints so that the strong sensation would keep me awake. All things that we would never allow in our own classrooms. And now I almost feel for my students... I now understand not being engaged, and that some things are done so that you simply do not lose your own sanity. But I'm not going to start accepting these inappropriate behaviors. I'm going to work even harder on planning engaging lessons and knowing when a lesson is not working and needs to be scrapped. I'm also going to understand how a simple break to use the bathroom and get a drink or even standing up to stretch for a minute can make a long activity seem to go a little faster. Changing it up and keeping it relevant . That's what I'm going to work on, so that my students don't ever feel like banging their head on the chair in front of them like I did (and even pretended to do to communicate with my peers that I was not enjoying myself).