Thursday, August 20, 2009

Teacher Purgatory, Bowling & Goals

Initially I planned to wait until this weekend to duly record what administrators refer to as teacher professional development or teacher in-service, but what I more fondly like to call “Teacher Purgatory.”

Mine began on Tuesday, and unlike most school districts across the land, my school district actually makes an attempt to make teacher in-service fun. They brought in a funny improv group from Chicago, and in the afternoon, we went bowling.

Yep. Bowling.

It was a team building thing. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all about the team building thing, but I’ve only been bowling once in my life and that was in high school. (Trust me, you don’t have enough fingers or toes to count how many years ago that was.)

But they gave me some nifty white socks (new ones) and some spiffy tan bowling shoes (used and rental ones) and a hamburger (luke warm, but free and edible). We had to bowl backwards, lefthanded, righthanded, dancing… Well, you get the picture, and yes, there were plenty of Kodak moments and plenty of picture taking. Let’s just hope none of it shows up on YouTube.

The following day we had a few meetings in the morning. Since I am a “department” of one, I said a silent prayer that I would get to meet with myself. I just love those kind of meetings. They go something like this…

Me… “Self, what do you think we should do? Should we work on these goals?”
Me too… “No, I make a motion that we should suspend the paperwork and work on getting our rooms ready.”
Me… “Wow, that’s a great idea! You’re fab-u-lous!”
Me too… “Why thanks! Let’s get cracking here…”

But like I said… Teacher Purgatory. Those little prayers weren’t quite working for me. My principal made sure he put me in his group, but that’s OK. I love his meetings. He’s one of the few people left on the planet who doesn’t feel the need to read to you his power point presentation because he knows he’s hired teachers who can, well, you know, read. As an added bonus, his meetings always go speedy quick, and just like I have a bag full of Richie-isms, Dr. Al manages to have his own little -ism gems. I think it’s the old coach in him channelling out. He was on a roll with his pep talk when he said, “If that don't get you burning, then your wood’s wet and you need to dry out…”

See what I mean? You stay awake just waiting for one of those little gems to pop out.

Later we talked about goal setting. I didn’t take me long to jot down my Top 5. In retrospect, I’m not exactly sure these goals are quite what administrators had envisioned, but nonetheless here are…

Richie’s Top 5 Goals For the Year

#5…To actually take attendance within 72 hours. I thought 24 hours or 48 hours might be too unrealistic. I learned a long time ago that when one makes a goal that one must put down on paper that someone stores in some file cabinet one should be careful because one doesn’t want that goal to come back to haunt or taunt them in some future meeting with whatever someone that might be. Now, while that sentence may sound like gobbledygook to some of you, the rest of us know exactly what I’m talkin’ about.

#4…To locate whatever important paperwork that’s on my desk in a timely, rational fashion. Notice here that I purposely did not define “timely” nor “rational.” That’s in keeping with the previous gobbledygook sentence.

#3…To not dance naked on the table. Now before you get all excited about that one, let me just say it’s important to always include a goal that you absolutely know you can achieve. I’m pretty darn tootin’ sure I can check off this one. See, I’m already feeling successful this year, and it’s only Day No. 2.

#2…To keep my job. Pretty self-explanatory. Let’s hope my “Things That Will Get You Fired Folder” stays slim this year.

#1…And, of course, the No. 1 goal this school year is… what else?…Not to call anyone––say it with me brothers and sisters––a Big Fat Stupid Head! The counter, my friends, is still on.


Melissa B. said...

Oh, gosh. I've got one more week of freedom, then it's back to the Salt Mines. I wish my school would make in-services fun, but they're all about best practices and trying to sound high-fallutin'. Which translates to, you guessed it, Teacher Purgatory...

Mike Rush said...


I just found your blog and I love it. You've got such a disarming wit...something gained I'm sure from years and years in the classroom. I think I'm going to adopt your goals for this year cause I take attendance like you do. Last year, my only goal was "don't be the one to leave the school in handcuffs today."

I hope you come see me on Teacher Food


askthehomediva said...

Thanks for such kind words! I did head one over to your site. I really liked the story about Tim. Great read. Hope you link up to me, too.

Kelley said...

I am missing all of you so much! I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for the bowling trip - please note, I did I say I actually wanted to be on the bowling trip. I remember how well they document those things - remember "our t.v. families?"