Saturday, April 11, 2009

I was led to believe there would be booze...

Yesterday I experienced my first faculty meeting. Contrary to popular belief, faculty meetings do not consist of teachers hanging out in the lounge, smoking, drinking, and making fun of students. I was so disappointed...

Instead, we head over to the local university for a discussion hosted by their writing department. This is, incidentally, the same university where I got *both* of my (non consecutive) undergrad degrees, so you can imagine my joy when I found out that they were going to hand out parking vouchers, because Parking Services has taken from me, over the course of 6 1/2 years, the equivalent of the GDP of Tuvalu. And I got free breakfast. I consider it reparations for two years of dorm food.

I was one of the first on the scene, and since I'm a long term sub, I really didn't HAVE to go in the first place, but since being a sub sucks, and I'd really like to have a big-girl job next year, I went in the hopes of shmoozing. Instead, the whole thing reminded me of high school, and it's as if I were the unpopular kid with B.O. It's pretty safe to say that not a single teacher spoke to me the whole time I was there, save my co-teacher, and I got there before he did. So I had 10 minutes of sitting alone trying not to look like a loser.

There are definite cliques: the young, attractive teachers all group together. Seasoned veterans all sit and talk about family or classes, and there are even a few wannabes that flit around and try to wedge themselves into one group or another. The hardest part about being an imposed observer of this whole thing is how desperately I want to be in one of those cliques, becuase it would mean I had a job and a classroom of my own. And the health insurance would be nice...

The topic of the day's meeting: research papers and research writing. What does the university expect incoming freshmen to have experienced once they get into college; in other words, what do we need to cover to prepare them for 100 level English and writing courses. Here's the probblem I have with this: I'd say that the majority of the students I have contact with on any given day can't even write a fucking sentence. Let's not even touch upon spelling, even with spell check. There is such a dosconnect between students' lives and school in this area; they see school as an inconvenience. Or a social gathering. They don't give a shit about writing, reading, or anything that comes in between them and their interactions (oh my god, WHY does every sixteen year old need a cell phone?!?!). The theories discussed in the meeting were noble, but also idealistic. By the time the students get to us, they have completely given up because the system has already failed them.

Here's the problem that I have now... I'm a damn sub. And I'm in a co-taught classroom for most of the day, so I basically function as a support for the other teacher in the room since I've had no previous input as to what is being taught. I spend my days following lesson plans that have been implemented by other people. So how do I make these kids care? Bottom line is, I have to get them to get this work done. How much room do I have to rock the boat? I find it hard to be spending this time talking about preparing students for college when the vast majority aren't ready for high school. Where is the joint meeting of high school and grade school teachers to discuss what they need to know to be prepared for high school, so that by the time I see them, I can get them ready for college?

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