Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Unprofessional Development

The new school year is just around the corner, and along with that comes workshop days. These are some of the biggest waste of times known to humanity. Just give us the time to get our classrooms set up and the first couple of weeks of planning taken care of. Of course, I'm speaking theoretically-- I still don't have a job for this fall.

This guy speaks for all of us. From The T.F.A. Trenches:
Teachers, even when in a learning role, do not cease to be professionals. We have our BAs; if we were going on in our learning we would be in law school or grad school. We want to learn like we are in law school or grad school. That means no gimmicks, no games, no group work, and no, absolutely no, teacher-voice. If you could end that sentence with "Boys and girls," don't say it. Do not play chimes or a recorder to get my attention, do not make me sing, and do not make me sit on the floor. I teach elementary school, that does not mean I am in it! Only God, not the County Office of Education, can revert teachers to being children.

There is a time and place for “lesson demonstrations:” in front of classes of children, tape-recorded for our professional critique and observation. There is no need for us to pretend to be students to understand how a practice might be implemented. Likewise, we do not need pretend to teach a class to show that we understand how to apply a theory to our practice. Certainly, do not lecture the whole time, but there are ways to let us interact with the material as adults. Any college grad is capable of meta-cognating at such a level where we improve our practice by discussing it, not awkwardly and haphazardly “modeling” it to bored and frustrated peers!

Be meticulously planned, carefully prepared, and absolutely efficient.
We’ve all taught bad lessons, we know exactly what they look and sound like from the moment they begin. Like lying to your mother, you will not get away with being unprepared in front of teachers! Similarly, as professional lesson-planners, we know how much time it should take to teach a single concept. Do not take 30 minutes to teach a 5 minute idea, even if someone has budgeted you that. Fight with the budget before you waste our time.

Do not take time to write norms.
If you really think I don’t know how to behave at a meeting, why do you trust me to run a classroom? Similarly, for those too-frequent teachers who don’t know how to act at a meeting, don’t imagine that your little poster of “expectations” is going to change their behavior. They know what it takes to be professional, if they’re not doing it, you need to address it. Talking while someone is teaching is universally rude, you don’t need a document to back you up.

Lastly, do not serve bad food. If you can't afford to give us reasonable fare, that's fine, but don't demand we stay at your facility and eat crap. I'm poor, it's summer, but I will shell out $7 to eat like a professional adult.

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