27 September 2010

Where I've been, and why those mandates don't often work

Hey there, long time, no read

I'd apologize for not gracing your monitor recently, but I'm not all that sorry. You see, I've been doing important things, like running a homecoming week and going to inservices.

For those of you who aren't immersed in the world of education, an inservice is one of those days when your kids don't go to school, but teachers do. (homecoming week I'm going to assume you remember) Theoretically, we use this time (the inservice time) to become better teachers. In reality, we use this time to act like students. That is, we doodle, pass notes, text, and watch the clock. Oh, and we go out to lunch, and get to have more than 30 minutes in which to eat.

It's good times, except when it's not. Like last Friday.

Last Friday, we had an inservice. We learned a lot of new acronyms, which means that we'll be better teachers. Now, I know that you know how Dr. Johncock feels about acronyms, and I feel similarly. I think that they are most often created by people who have a need to try to quantify, through a simple, 18 step process, how education actually works. These people are almost certainly all idiots.

All of the following are actual acronyms that I either learned or re-learned on Friday: IEP, ILP, SLIC, SIED, ASD, NEP, LEP, FEP, STEM, SAC, and RTI.

We spent literally hours on this. None of it will make me a better teacher. We had precious little time to actually talk to other teachers about what they're doing, to discuss cross-curricular lesson planning, or to observe them in action with students. We also got to watch some of our co-workers, who are trained in these acronyms show us PowerPoint presentations. Now, don't get me wrong, I love PowerPoint and use it in class almost daily. It ensures that all of my classes get the same exact information, and it's easy to email home to parents who have sick/suspended/skipping kids.

However, I hate to watch people who don't use PowerPoint very often use it. They need to
watch this guy and then actually not do those things.

I also hate to watch people try to put a video up on the screen. Practice it once or twice. I don't want to watch you be bamboozled by a projector for 3 minutes. Small wonder we're told not to lecture, since technology has made us worse at it.

I don't even blame my coworkers. Most of them know that lecture isn't their strong point, but they've been asked by their supervisors if they couldn't just "say a little bit, maybe help us out". Then, they're wedged into a time slot that either way to long, or way to short, and expected to teach other teachers. And they get no extra time during their already hectic day to prepare.

I'd love to give you 3500 words on how good lecture can be, and how hard it is to make lecture look easy, but that's a post for another day.

Returning to my story of woe from Friday: We sat in meetings, and now our leadership can check that box for their superiors. Then our superiors can check that box off in that binder of mandates from the state DOE, and they'll declare us Professionally Developed. So, it looks, to an outsider, like we got something done, and became better teachers.

Don't be fooled. All I got done was a bitchin' sketch of a rocket powered car. And I learned what the Friday special was at the local Bar-B-Q joint.


  1. In Arizona, our "Teacher Inservice" was explaining what paperwork to fill out to get the extra pay from the state. That took 20 minutes. The next hour we met about some specific kids and how to teach them better (no really, we did, and it was great!). We finished with "work on your own" time. I got a lot of stuff done, and I think I am a better teacher.

    Take that Colorado!

  2. You got to go to lunch???? I am in the same district and we didn't get to go out to lunch it was provided