February 9, 2007

Time for Teachers to Learn

It seems rather popular for us to share our inservice nightmares on the teacher blog neighborhood, but I'm sorry to say that after the first day, I am thoroughly irritated. Unless the idea of two days in a row give you the chills...

I was bummed that I had to attend a meeting off campus with other teachers who teach in the magnet program. The teachers who stayed behind played lingo bingo, that is a unsanctioned game of identifying educational jargon we could possibly hear during our two days of educational enlightenment. "No Child Left Behind" appeared in the center square. I have to commend the teacher who thought up that activity to keep us entertained. The game was still going on at the end of yesterday, but I saw several of my colleagues were just one square away from winning. Can't wait to see that moment. I should take my camera and try to capture it for the yearbook!

So, in the morning I went to a magnet meeting where we talking about applying more internationalism in our classroom and had an impassioned discussion about late work and homework policies. We middle school teachers are getting the parents crawling up our backs about stiff policies, which we don't think are stiff enough, actually, and the high school teachers wonder why our students feel entitled to turn in work whenever they want. It's not from us. It was really suppose to just be a session when we passed on information about what is expected at higher grade levels so we could prepare the students, but as I expected, it because a forum of frustration. It wasn't terrible, though. It's an on-going battle for us.

In the afternoon, back at my school, we had a gang awareness training, which we have about once a year. It's not that we have a bad gang problem, but it's there. There is an old gang that is named after the street where our school is located. The truth is, according to the trainer, that there are gangs everywhere in our city and suburbs. It's true. If you listen to the news, some of the most violent crimes happen in nice neighborhoods. It's fascinating to hear more about all this, and I do constantly find myself trying to make sense of the graffiti I see around. I don't believe I have any kids involved with gangs right now, and it's been quite a few months since I have.

And then to round out my 12-hour day, I went to an inservice at the school where I teach at night. We're trying to put an emphasis on proficiency exams that are coming up, so we met by content area to discuss how we can incorporate some test-taking strategies and do a last ditch effort to push the content on the students in the next few months. Our principal constantly commends us, and I have never felt so appreciated by an administrator. What cracks me up, though, is his passionate speech to encourage us to do what our day school principals mandate us to do!

We spent time planning with other teachers, which is something I always appreciate in an inservice, and it was nice since I rarely have an opportunity to talk to other teachers there since my schedule is not daily, which is not the norm. There was a teacher who had been teaching for 30 years, and I just didn't see eye-to-eye about our teaching techniques. Out of respect, it was hard for me stand up for myself, but I did finally say that I didn't think that the bare minimum he and another teacher were teaching the students to get by on the writing exam was good enough. I'll continue to do it my way. At my last school, doing it my way yielded a 90% first time pass rate. And doing it my way also passed those students (mostly special ed) in my remediation classes on the second or third try.

Oops! How did I end up with such a long post when nothing major happened yesterday?

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