I hadn’t planned on writing another blog quite so soon, but the response to my use of humor to share teacher misery was overwhelming!
99% of you understood that it was meant to be funny. <1% (well, actually 5 of you out of over 66,000 hits) were actually looking for ideas to make In-service better, and the last <1%, (2 of you), well, I’ll save them for later on.
To start, let me tell you that I’m required to attend 8 days of In-service and 2 work days. Quite a bit of these days are not led by Administrators but people hired to teach a seminar. I have the greatest of respect for good Administration who are there to do a job many of us would rather not do. We call it “the dark side”, but really, they get to see some of the worst of the worst as far as situations, student behavior, etc. Many of them DO have their hands tied and can’t do anything different for In-Service, or they are afraid to do something different because ‘this is how it’s always been done’. Every now and then you get an Admin who is open to new things and that’s when we, as teachers, need to jump at the chance to share our ideas. So as we commiserate, we can remember that they are probably just as un-thrilled as we are about what’s going on. Now, people who are hired and get paid to do this for a living…that’s another thing!
One fella we had brought cotton balls and gave them to us as a ‘reward’ for ‘participation’. I teach Junior High, so we think like them from time to time, and we brought cotton balls in our purse, and the guy couldn’t understand how the bowls had become so full. THAT’S the kind of In-Service I’m talking about….
People had some great ideas about what teachers really want and need in an In-service, so to help people out who were looking for this, I compiled the suggestions.
1. Have a separate training day for new teachers. They can get all of their paperwork finished, learn about campus and district policies, and receive all of their supplies and assignments. (I always wanted them to wear beanies for a week, but that’s probably teacher hazing).
2. Have the whole staff attend a 30 min – hour meeting where new teachers are introduced, any finished/ongoing changes to the campus/district are discussed, and teachers receive a folder of all paperwork that needs to be completed by the end of the day (contact forms, etc.).
3. The rest of the day is spent with Departments creating lesson plans for at least the first grading period. While they are together, the Principal can stop by and let them know test results and what the department needs to focus on for the upcoming year.
4. Technology can come and meet with teachers by building and make sure all technology is working/installed/updated. (Did you know that if you put in a tech request and they fix the problems quickly, they close out the request by typing P.I.C.N.I.C which means ‘Problem in chair, not in computer’? It’s true…)
5. All extra-curricular teachers and sponsors can meet and work out their calendars for the year. Hopefully this will help and little Johnny won’t be expected to be in band, in choir and on a Student Council trip at the same time.
6. Teachers can join one of several different teacher led campus committees, such as PTA Reps, Secret Pals, Special Events, Sports Support, Grants for Teachers, Pets in the Classroom, etc. and plan how to involve teachers throughout the year and how to use activities to not only help students, but that also build teacher morale.
7. As an In-service activity, teachers can be grouped with different departments and they can discuss what works, what doesn’t work, ideas for classroom management, etc. They create notecards full of ideas that work, and all teachers receive a copy to give them new ideas.
8. Anyone who needs a specific course in bullying, harassment, discipline, management, etc. can use this time to take an online course. Many are offered through region training centers and can be taken at school. Results are printed and filed in the front office to make sure they have credit.
9. And last, but certainly not least, teachers are able to make copies, clean and decorate, and get ready for the new batch of students.
Now, as for the <1% who obviously didn’t understand that my previous blog was to be humorous, my advice: don’t read my blogs. It’s that simple. I am truthful and I try to present truth in a way that makes people laugh. I believe I was called a ‘whiner’ and told that my classroom scores must not be good, and that I needed to ‘get on the bus’.
I got news for you. All teachers are ON the bus. We LIVE on the bus. We eat there, cry there, celebrate there, and fall in love with our kids and career every year there. One In-service activity last year actually had us get on a bus and tour the neighborhoods we served so we had a better idea about the kids and their home life. Some people threw up from motion sickness, some got heat exhaustion from the AC not working, and others just stared in awe at the ‘homes’ that these children lived in. But we were ALL there, and we stay there long past the day we retire.
What people who don’t teach don’t understand is that we don’t do this for the money, certainly not the insurance or the retirement. We do it for the kids, and if we have to use humor now and then to commiserate, then so be it. Like it or no, the truth is funny.