Everyone Has a Boss.
Monday could definitely have been a better day.
I came into school resolved to do the once a semester Child Abuse Training and test, which is entirely online. It isn’t due until next week, but I like to stay ahead of things, just in case. The training and the video are always super depressing, for obvious reasons. The plan was to get it done during period two, when I have my conference period.
After briefly conversing with my neighbor (the school psychologist), I set up my computer to do so, and started to listen to the training while doing some basic chores around the classroom. It was a new version of the video, so I rapidly stopped doing chores, and instead sat down to pay it my full attention.
Despite the “mandatory reporter” information being the same, the video was majorly updated. It included information about human trafficking, and was much more detailed about ways to spot child abuse of various types. I’m really glad that I stopped to pay real attention to it, despite the depressing nature of the content. Even though I have done the training for 21 years now, this updated version was actually well done and informative. Credit to the District for putting it together.
As this was ending, I saw Suits in my area of campus, the Badlands.
That’s odd, since Suits generally don’t make it all the way out to the Badlands. The principal was taking his boss on a tour of classrooms, however, as well as some out of classroom person I met once before, and a VP that I like and respect. They stopped in, and I of course explained that I was on my conference period.
Not willing to be rude, I set up my multimedia projector, and rapidly explained a few things that were going on in the class, and the course content. It was an interesting enough conversation, and I really did try to be a gracious host…despite still having to take the test on the child abuse training.
Suits being suits, however, it wasn’t long before my Principal’s boss launched into a question that was pretty much a chain of contrary buzzwords. This is a strategy that had apparently worked in other classrooms, and with other teachers…however, I wasn’t really having it. The advantage of tenure, I suppose. I replied with, “With all due respect, I’m not certain that you’re clear on the actual material that you’re citing, sir.” That seemed a good way to deal with the situation.
It wasn’t. He simply rephrased the rhetorical question again, adding a layer of educational buzzwords. The bulk of what was being asked came down to, “That seems like a highly effective method, but I challenge you to think up a more effective method.” At that point, I invited him to come to my classroom at his leisure, and demonstrate what a more effective method might be, by teaching it to my class, and then in turn, on my conference period, explaining it to me. I suggested that the door was in fact, always open, and it would be an honor.
There was an awkward silence.
He really didn’t want to do that.
Our principal filled the void, saying something like, “I think what the Director means is…what about students that have already achieved mastery of that method of writing? What do you do for them?”
Sadly, I am intensely literal. I answered that with, “According to our standardized test scores, there are twelve of those students at our school. They are all in the eleventh or twelfth grade, so the scores suggest that I pretty much taught them that myself. In addition, we have two thirds of my Tenth Grade class entering the year with fails in English, suggesting that in a best case scenario, only one third is already at a point of ‘mastery’ on that compositional standard. Those are just the numbers, sir.”
That turned awkward. Quickly. I don’t think anyone wanted answers that involved me actually researching the students and their stats. In fact, I’m sure of it. I was pretty much supposed to nod my head thoughtfully at the buzzword laden speech, and agree that somewhere there must be a more excellent method of teaching that I had never heard of, and would seek out like it was the Holy Grail. Or perhaps have suggested that with more meetings, the best method would somehow be brought to me.
I didn’t do that, so there was a weird, long silence.
After that though, handshakes and “thank you for your time” phrases ensued, and the others departed, leaving me to my depressing test on child abuse reporting. I got a hundred percent on that, immediately.
Although, in fairness, you are allowed to take it over and over, an infinite number of times, until you get one hundred percent, which is the mandatory score. I’m proud to have paid attention, and done it in one shot, as is usual…despite the training and the test changing.
I think that has a lot to do with my feelings on that awkward visit. We have a system that allows teachers an infinite number of tests on an important subject like child abuse. More than one person has told me that they ignored the video, and just took the test until they got it right. If that’s what the administrative system has come up with as a method of making sure that teachers are trained in child abuse awareness…it seems pretty ineffective and quite frankly, lazy…why should I really respect any input on the teaching of English?
Depressing Monday morning, True Believers.