Wednesday, September 07, 2005



I have completed two days of professional development, tried to hurriedly put my classroom together, and tomorrow, the kids are coming back. It's amazing how in just three short weeks I forgot so much of the ridiculousness of day-to-day in the New York City public school system.

I spent a large portion of Tuesday morning signing papers stating that I had read information that I had not yet read. This was per the direct instructions of my school administration. (Never fear, they gave me the papers to read later in the day.) The rest of that day was spent listening to lectures. One of the speakers said in half-seriousness that the age of our students directly correlates to the amount of time they can listen and actually process what is being said. For example, an eight year old can listen for eight minutes, a fifteen year old for fifteen minutes, etc. So, following this logic, as a 23 year old, I should be able to listen for 23 minutes...yet they required me to listen for approximately 6 hours. Now, I am not a huge proponent of this age/listening-time ration, but maybe there's a little something to it. During the last hour, my friend broke her bracelet. Everyone at the table laughed nearly to the point of tears. If you reread the sentence: my friend broke her bracelet, you can probably see that there isn't anything too funny in this little story. We were clearly losing our minds.

Anyhow, I am starting tomorrow better than I started last year. I have pencils, as many desks as students, and literacy books. I do not, however, have a schedule (remember the students will be there in about 14 hours,) student workbooks, math textbooks, or a roster that is not labelled "tentative." In order to get these things, I have to ask about three dozen people four dozen questions, and usually end up filling out a form with no idea of who to return it to. Until about 1:00 this afternoon, the assistant principal couldn't decide what grade curriculum I would be using, since there are students from three different grades in my class. Oh, and my favorite thing from this summer, there's still a little problem in my school. If you turn on the lights, the air conditioner shuts off; and if you turn on the air conditioner, all the lights go out. My school administration has been trying to fix this for weeks, but the contractors won't come in because, (you guessed it!) the Department of Education hasn't paid them yet for prior work. It's cooled off a bit now, so I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that this little problem is ironed out by next summer.

And then we come to my own education. As a student in the CUNY system, I have had many entertaining experiences. My college is currently trying to become nationally accredited. I understand and recognize the significance of this title, but I never knew there would be a time when I would be directly involved. Apparently, during the next few weeks, there will be certain professionals wandering around my campus. They may stop me and ask me what I am learning in class. My answer, and the answers of other random students, will be part of the decision-making process. I find myself trying to stock answers right now: "Oh, we're learning about B.F. Skinner and positive behavioral supports" or "I just completed a paper on Qualitative Reading Inventories." (Surely they won't know the latter is from last semester.) Another friend of mine, who worked for sometime in a finance department for an international non-profit, is thinking she might lie and say that she is majoring in business, just so she can confidently talk about business practices in Guatemala. Clearly, this is an efficient and necessary aspect of the accreditation process.

So, my plan for the coming weeks: keep my nose to the proverbial grindstone at work, and keep my eyes to the ground when I go to school. Maybe (per the theory of many of my students) refusing to make eye contact with any random professionals will make me invisible to them.

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