Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Teacher Torture

That's what a Queens chapter leader called the 80 minutes of PD most city teachers are subject to every Monday for the foreseeable future. Of course UFT leadership deems it a great victory, since there is now a committee that will sit around and figure out how to inflict plan this. The idea, of course, is that with teacher input everything will be much better. Of course, I've been to teacher-planned PD sessions for years, and I can't see a whole lot revolutionary about it.

Mulgrew asked the city chapter leaders last week whether it was PD or faculty meetings, and there was a moan that very much suggested the latter. After sitting through decades of meetings planned by administrators, almost all of which I'd have done just as well without, it's kind of tough for me to understand just why Carmen Fariña determined it would all be different this year. Did she think that because her PD was perfect in every way that it would be magically replicated citywide? Did she think that administrators everywhere would finally discover the secret sauce and motivate all the teachers who'd reluctantly sat through years of tedious and unnecessary meetings? Did she think that teachers, who supposedly never had any voice in PD before, would all wake up experts in administering it?

Of course this innovation was a great victory for the UFT, just as the small group instruction was a great victory for the UFT. Of course, when this great victory was over, it was just as great a victory to get rid of it. It must be fabulous to run the UFT, go to gala luncheons, and declare victory all the time no matter what happens. We achieved a great victory. Now we dumped it and that is yet another great victory.

One teacher told me they spend their extra time writing curriculum, you know, the one that was supposed to be in place this year so we could have Common Core and Mulgrew wouldn't punch you in the face. Another told me she sat through 80 minutes of lectures about Danielson and wanted nothing more than to slit her throat.

And that's not to mention Tuesdays, with 35 minutes of parent contact, because the only time parents ever need to be contacted is on Tuesdays, and if anything happens on Wednesday they can just sit and wait six days to hear about it. Then there is another 35 minutes for OPW, other professional work, which I've heard referred to as OFS. (We'll call it Other Frigging Stuff for the purposes of this column.)

One of the great things about teaching is you're never tired after a full day, so what's better than sitting for another 80 minutes on Monday? And surely all principals are ethical, and none would ever have teachers do extra work for which they should be paid. Nor would they ever give a dull, wasteful meeting. Doubtless teachers are jumping up and down for chances to discuss the new educational programs the geniuses who dream up such things have concocted. And next year, when the same geniuses discard those programs for new ones of equally dubious value, teachers will be equally excited to discuss them too.

It's a great thing we're using the time like this, rather than frittering it away by adding to class time. How horrible and wasteful it would be if we were actually teaching instead of going to meetings.
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