Thursday, June 11, 2015

We'll be glad to help you in three to six weeks!

It was one of those days again.  150 teachers were packed into a room on hard chairs, on a day that the rest of the developed world has off, listening sulkily to a presenter rattle on about accommodations for students while gesturing vaguely to a PowerPoint presentation. 

Sure, there’s plenty for us to learn like there is in any industry.  I do love sitting with other tense, disaffected educators, though.  It’s like our own bitter version of MST3K. 

By the way, the worst behaved students in the world are teachers who are forced to go to professional development that they didn’t choose.  You’ll see audience members sleeping, talking with their neighbor, passing notes, eating, playing on their computer or phone, or sitting back with their arms folded and a glare on their faces.  It’s a tough crowd. Administrators should take a cue from comedy clubs and serve alcohol.

Today we learned that if you need a behavior specialist to come into your room to help you with a student who is out of control, you’ll first need to hand over three to six weeks worth of documentation in order to even have a meeting with the specialist or principal.  Plus, if you haven’t been able to talk to the parents, or if anything is missing, the district will send you back to get three to six weeks more documentation, and then they’ll schedule the meeting.

Documentation is always a good thing, right?  Naturally, the thinking is the more, the better.  So let’s imagine this scenario:  You are a teacher, trying to get your students through the state-mandated material so that they can be tested on it, and you have a student who is out of control.  The district’s idea is that for the next GRADING PERIOD, you should write down every disruptive behavior the kid exhibited and how you dealt with it, plus every time you tried to call or email the parents about it.  

So for an entire grading period, you’ve got a kid disrupting your classroom, learning nothing, taking time away from other kids and possibly disrupting their learning as well.  Sounds like a great plan, doesn’t it?  It’s like calling 911 because someone’s trying to break into your home, only to have emergency personnel tell you that you should write down everything you’ve done to keep a potential burglar/kidnapper/murderer/rapist out, and then call again once that list is completed so they can ask what you learned from it.  If you're still alive afterwards, the police will ask why you didn’t get a better lock on the door when you moved in, or here’s what you should try the next time someone tries to kick in the glass. 

I’d write more, but I’ve got grading to do.  Plus I have all this broken glass to clean up.