I successfully completed one Evil Level Sudoku puzzle today during today’s professional development. Go me. I started a second one, but ran out of time. Those Evil Level puzzles make me feel smarter than I am. There’s something about toiling over a puzzle for a long time that makes it feel like an achievement. Of course, then I throw my masterful achievement of the moment in the garbage, or write a shopping list on the back so I feel less wasteful.
Ironically, I want to make a real effort to be more professional this year. You could argue, fairly, that I am not off to a very auspicious beginning. However, I refuse to partake in anything that I don’t think will be useful. Whenever we have to do written evaluations, I try to be honest and fair in my critique, but we always get more recycled, shallow stuff thrown at us. The evaluations go unread, I bet. I get very, very antsy during these things, especially if they aren’t relevant to me. Although thinking about how I feel in PD is important for thinking about teaching my own students. I don’t want them to feel disconnected and frustrated like I do when I'm in PD.
For example, I would have loved a sit-down with the other teachers on the sixth grade team this year. Last year, working with a great supportive team made teaching a difficult grade bearable. I am not even sure who else is teaching my incoming homeroom class. Ideally, we would have met to discuss expectations, incentives, and how we’d support each other. I also think we would have benefitted from an in-depth conversation among of all the ELA teachers, especially since our test results were so abysmal last year.
Neither of those events transpired. Instead, we were treated to an hour-long presentation on the new math program/curriculum, which included something that seemed like a sales pitch for a textbook the school’s already purchased. If I didn’t teach English, I would not even be able to spell math- that’s how bad I am at math. I do not wish to be near anything math related as it makes me itch. But that’s not really something you can write on an evaluation form. The whole PD-component felt thrown together for convenience, not purpose. As teachers, we don’t want to be imparting knowledge while the kids sit there like little sponges; the same goes for adults.
We also had to sit through a presentation on last year’s ELA data. We looked at statistics. English + math means tuning out with only one ear, but I was still able to work on my Sudoku. The entire thing got very aggravating to me, because it ended up with people who don’t teach English making suggestions to us for how we should teach and prepare the students for the test. This would be fine, but nothing they suggested was new to me or my English department colleagues. So, again, sort of pointless.
I shouldn’t complain too much. We did get what I think was a generous amount of time to set up our rooms. My room still needs some little details and more organizing, but it’s clean and cheerful and kid-ready. I, on the other hand, am not clean, or cheerful, and I’m not even ready for my own kid at this point. Thankfully she’s asleep, as I soon will be too.