Friday, October 23, 2015

On Your Teacher Team

So there you are on your teacher team, looking at a stack of papers and wondering how you can make the papers better. You can write them yourself, of course. You probably write better than most of the kids, except that one in the first row, who writes better than anyone you've ever met. How do you improve on that? You could tell the kid to start writing worse so you could make suggestions for improvement.

On the other hand, there are the four kids who've never been in school in their lives, and they don't know how to write at all. Fortunately, you have an ESL teacher in back of your room, and you can blame those kids on her. After all, it's her job to get them up to snuff, and not only has she failed to teach them English, but she's further failed to teach them to write in their first language. The fact that she doesn't know that language either is neither here nor there. She should be getting them fluent in L1 so they can do better in your class. How the hell are you supposed to show improvement when those kids cannot produce writing in any discernible language?

It's 50 minutes you have to sit at this meeting. Five minutes are already gone, and in another five minutes ten will be gone. You haven't watched a clock like this since you were in elementary school. Of course it's a DOE clock and it says six o' clock even though you know for a fact it's closer to three. The second hand is moving, and that's evidence that time is passing. But is it really? Is this the longest fifty minutes of your week?

Thank goodness they've at least picked someone else to lead this team. Last year you had to fill out the paperwork and show alleged goals and achievements. This year someone else is doing it, though they say they're gonna alternate. You try to fade into the background. You wonder why you don't own a shirt that's the precise puke green someone painted the wall 50 years ago.

Of course no one on your team teaches the same subject as you, or has the same students as you, or knows anything about what it is you do, and your team was chosen at random based on room availability. Perish forbid you should sit in the cafeteria like you do at least once a day with the teacher who teaches the exact same kids you do. It would be terrible if your teacher team was with her, because as it happens you speak to her every single day. So what if you speak one language, she speaks another, and you collaborate to call homes together. That doesn't matter.

The important thing is you sit here, look at stacks of papers, and think about all the things you've done wrong, all the things that could be better, and all the reasons the failure to do better is your fault.

Because that's why you need teacher team meetings.
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