Wednesday, January 03, 2007

PD Days and Expectations

I'm not a big fan of teacher in-service days: those days that we're in school but the students are not. When I was a kid they were known as professional development days. They're interesting and I learn new things during each workshop, but they usually involve garbage food of some sort: the past two days it's been soft drinks, two varieties of cookies and two varieties of cake. I could avoid the lunch area altogether but I think it would be cowardly, not to mention disrespectful to my colleagues. I should just ignore the stupid food, but for some reason the past week has involved major carb cravings. *sigh* I'm officially declaring the last two days of eating null and void. Thank god my students are back tomorrow, and I'm back into good nutrition and good hydration mode.

There's a scene in Dumas' Twenty Years After where the Comte de la Fere explains to D'Artagnan the impact that raising Raoul has had on his character: "I have corrected the vices that I had; I have assumed the virtues that I had not". Teaching is like that. I have to set an example to my students, so my nutritional choices are much better when they're around.

My home gym is growing. It's the room formerly known as the living room. Who needs a living room, anyway, especially without a tv? I got a bench from KM@rt and one of those metal shelf units from Targ3t. The former is going to be assembled this weekend, the latter is half-assembled already. No, I am not giving up my lovely non-home gym, but if the six months of Jan-June 2007 are going to be productive enough to make up for the non productive early months in Kansas, I need to add activity to my life beyond the regular evening workouts.

The theme for this month is living up to expectations. I told someone today that if my students come to me with a story or an excuse, no matter how improbable - the ferret ate my homework and the ion storm fried my computer so I couldn't reprint it - I prefer to tell them "I believe you. But I still need the homework. How quickly can you re-do it?", then to challenge their story. My life is easier and happier if I believe and act as if my students are incapable of a mean or dishonorable act. (Those of you who were in the debating society with me in the 1980s will recognize the reference.) I was thinking about this because I noticed recently that two people had linked to this blog in ways that inspire me to kick myself in the butt: I must live up to the company M@arla put me in, and conduct myself in a way that befits a member of Kris' tribe. Thank you both! I needed that.


At 6:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Maspik Teruzim,

I found you again after about a year of swearing off of blogging. I used to be "Finding Muscles," but now I'm an artist, so I've changed my name.

You are always my superhero in the weight training world, and now you have become a hero in my teaching world. I really love your approach to the profession and to the kids. I taught in a public high school for five years, and then folded my hand. The paperwork, the parents, the lacklustre other teachers... and then I had four preps a day since I was the whole French department by myself.

Now I am a museum educator on Long Island.

The kids, on the other hand, were my joys. You approach to Excuse-O-Rama is wonderful.

I also love the way you understand that they watch every single thing you do. Having a teacher with integrity will stay with them for their whole lives. Grammar. Sorry, just waking up.

I'll sleep better tonight knowing that there is an excellent teacher somewhere in Kansas going beyond the mark and touching kids' lives in a searingly important way.

At 6:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mich, I am honored that you think so highly of my tribe. I really enjoy your blog for it's refreshing point of view. Having spent the last two years as a teacher myself, the pedagogical reflections are also worth their weight in gold. Still, nothing beats being a full-time stay-at-home dad at the moment.

It's actually funny how much nodding I find myself doing while reading your reflections on being a teacher. I suspect the school culture is somewhat different here in Finland, but kids are just kids whether American or Finnish.

Speaking of teacher nutrition, we had a system where every teacher was responsible for the snacks in the teacher's lounge one week at a time. This usually meant a steady diet of sweets, cakes and cookies combined with an equally steady stream of "I should really cut down on all this junk". When someone actually served something healthy(ish), sighs of relief and optimistic praise would fill the lounge. Still, the pattern never changed and all the garbage would reappear in a timely fashion without fail. Sometimes teachers are not all that good in teaching themselves lessons. I also suspect that many feel a need to "reward" themselves to counter the intensive days in the class room.

At 6:36 PM , Blogger Mich said...

PotatoPrint: Thank you so much for the kind words, but that's way too high praise for me. You should see my amazing colleagues; I'm in awe of what they can do. I'm not an excellent teacher yet: rather, I'm a beginning teacher who intends to get better and postpone the inevitable burnout by 30 years or so. :-)

Kris: The quality of the food in the teachers lounge never fails to startle me with its awfulness. If it wasn't for the fact that the photocopier and the staff washrooms are in there, I would stay out all the time. If I were to design a school, I would put a heavy bag in the teachers' lounge. Seems far more useful to me.


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