Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Being on the Wrong Side of the PD

It's the first day of school and I'm going to be very busy. Among a whole lot of other things, I'm giving a PD, for the first time ever, and I'm pretty nervous about it. Teachers are a tough audience. Kids are a tough audience, but we're worse. Of course, that's not all our fault.

One of my pet peeves is being forced to listen to someone read a PowerPoint. For goodness sake, just hand it to me, let me look at it, or something. I can read it a lot faster than you can read it aloud. And I don't like to brag, but I've been speaking English since I was a baby. I do it so much, in fact, that I know people who wish I would stop. This notwithstanding, I've been able to read since I was in first grade, and that was a while back.

Then there are the meetings about lateness. Kids shouldn't be late. It's bad if they're late. Tell them not to be late. Lateness will affect their grades. Except please pass everyone anyway, but make them believe that won't happen if they're late. It's not about reality, it's about what they believe.

Then there's the new thing. This year, we've discovered this new way to teach. It's the only way to teach, and anyone who doesn't teach that way is doing it wrong. What? What about portfolios? Portfolios are out. Yes I know I said last year that every student must have a portfolio, but we're just not doing that anymore. Well yes I know I said they were absolutely essential, but they aren't, and this thing is.

Or maybe it's the email that morphed into a meeting. From now on homework will only count 15%. Last year we counted it 20%, but this year it's 15%. That's 5% less than 15%. 20% is 5% more than 15%. So please count homework 15%. That doesn't mean 16%. And it doesn't mean 14%. Let me reiterate, and then we'll discuss it. But no matter what we discuss it's gonna be 15%. Let's review.

Sometimes it's a private company that's found the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. If you only use this Thing in class, you will be highly effective. That's right. Just stand there, show them the Thing, and talk about the Thing. Explain to them that you're one of the first schools in the city using the Thing, and that they're very lucky to have it. After all, the person who invented the Thing went to Harvard, so it must be a really good Thing. Now let's talk about how to make the Thing your Thing.

There's the Revolutionary Computer Program, the one that makes all others obsolete. Once you have this in your classroom, teaching will be a walk in the park. Your students will be overjoyed to get out of bed at 5 AM and spend 90 minutes on a train coming to your class. And you won't have to do any work because the Revolutionary Computer Program will do it for you. Of course last year's Revolutionary Computer Program didn't work out even though it cost a million dollars, but this time it's gonna really work.

Almost every person I face tomorrow will have been to each and every one of these meetings, and will therefore be expecting more of the same. The best I can hope for is that they give me a small listen before they start playing Words with Friends.

There's some karmic justice here, though. I may have been just a bit critical of one or two people who gave PD. It never occurred to me that I'd one day be in their shoes. I'll make sure I wear the right shoes tomorrow. 

Wish me luck.
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