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Thursday, January 18, 2007

You Become What You Hate.

If you ever want a large group of people to sit quietly and listen to you, don't ever choose teachers to be your audience. We are worse than our students when it comes to behaving ourselves, especially when we feel patronized or that the material presented doesn't apply to us. I've been to workshops where teachers openly sat and read the newspaper in front of the presenter (though quite honestly, how would a PE teacher feel a workshop on reading activities applied to him?), passed notes, had conversations with their peers, or sat with arms defiantly folded and mouths firmly sealed.

We at the high school are required to attend a series of presentations on the topic of literacy strategies and the first meeting was a complete disaster. We were separated into groups based on our department and special ed. people were assigned to various groups as we don't really fit in any one place. My Jewish colleague in special ed. refers to herself as "The Wandering Jew", so I guess that makes me the "Bedouin Wanderer"... Anyway, my group was fairly well behaved, even when we were required to participate in something I only ever did in my freshman classes at college... Make up one lie and provide two interesting truths about yourself to your colleagues and have them guess which was the lie. It's my understanding that another department had a great time with that one and hopefully made their presenter blush. Needless to say, the meeting was an unmitigated disaster and the presenters were taken to the shed over it for sucking so badly.

Yesterday was the follow-up presentation, and our presenter made it very clear that she didn't appreciate being complained about. When another special ed. teacher and I showed up early in an attempt to feign enthusiasm (out of politeness), she snapped at us and told us to move to a table where she had placed materials. She even called us "girls". My fellow teacher and I exchanged glances and it led to our having a smart ass answer to just about everything she said for the rest of the presentation (under our breath, of course).

For some, this might be an eye-opening experience as to how they handle their own students, but since I already treat my students with respectful yet firm expectations, I wasn't learning anything new. After all, you never know which one is packing that day ;)

She had a delightful little activity (God, I HATE delightful little activities) for us to get started where we took little round stickers up to two posters and placed them on a scale of 1 to 10 depicting how confident we felt in the areas of pre-reading activities (preparing students for the text they are about to read). The intention was to model something we could do with our own students. I leaned to my special ed. colleague and said "Can you imagine our guys? They'd stick them on their foreheads or on their asses long before they'd get to the poster..."
"Yeah I know... Tell Steve about it."
I turned to Steven on the other side of me.
"Hey Ste... Oh, never mind."
His grin shone back at me under the day-glo orange sticker on his forehead.
"Bindi!" he announced.
I laughed.

I love my colleagues. We make bloody awful students!

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