Sunday, August 06, 2006

What’s not working for me in teaching: meetings.

School Council Meeting. I’m wedged between two largish people at a long table. The table groans under its weight: plates of party pies and sausage rolls, hard cheese, soft cheese, three types of dips, rice crackers, sandwiches, with various tempting fillings, cut into little triangles, plates of sliced carb rich fruit. Squeezed amongst the plates and cups and saucers and brightly coloured paper napkins are drifts of papers to which people will talk as the meeting proceeds. I’m starving but food at this time is prohibited for me because I have Type 1 Diabetes. (And no, I don’t want a plate of carb free food at this juncture. Perhaps I’ll blog on the joys of diabetes some other time.) Besides. My father’s disdain for church ‘bun fights’ rubbed off on me a long time before I was diagnosed with diabetes.

So I’m the only person at the meeting not slavering with glee at the repast spread before us. The abundant food adds to my torture. My nose is almost in a plate of food but there’s nowhere to which to remove it. (My nose or the plate.) The chairs around the table are remarkably upright and close. I can almost feel the ample flesh of two enormous upper arms – one on each side of me – not mine – especially as they reach delicately across me for party pies before tucking them into their pie-holes. (One grasping hand has fake red manicured finger-nails at the end of sausage fingers adorned with too much bling.) The person on my right has gappy protruding teeth and talks with food in her mouth. Pastry has flaked onto her left breast and down onto her enormous navy polyester clad thigh.

I shouldn’t be noticing these details, a hidden agenda, I should be focusing on proceedings. But if I do I will fall sideways, probably onto the cushiony arm of the person on my left. In fact, it’s an appealing thought. I’m unutterably tired and the meeting is so god-awful boring that I’m nearly sick with stifled yawning; my eyes, barely open, are blurred with exhausted tears.

I should just pack it in. But I’m an elected staff rep at the beginning of a second two year term. I feel I’ll be disappointing my constituents if I resign. Laugh out loud.

Earlier. Same day. Curriculum Committee Meeting. I loathe this one. Our Leader lacks emotional intelligence and a sense of humour. The members of committee must mind the eggshells. (I wonder what it’s like to have people walk around one on eggshells.) The meeting, as usual, is repetitive and unproductive. Intelligent people with great ideas repress them lest Our Leader take umbrage, roll her eyes, and sulk for the next three weeks. My two worlds almost collide when we are taught how to blog on this very site. (Big scary adrenalin rush, but my secret is still safe.) We are to have an on-line ‘conversation’ – “these professional conversations – spotto new buzz word - are the most important aspect of Teaching and Learning”. Not a bad idea, but woe betide anyone who upsets Our Leader on-line. I clench every muscle that will clench for the duration to avoid letting Our Leader have it.

At the previous meeting Our Leader sanctioned me for making some innocuous quip, which got a laugh from those who dared to. The minutes possibly recorded my loud “It was a joke! Fuck!” Very unprofessional, I admit. (Another committee member later suggested that, for the benefit of our dour Leader, we should hold up smiley faces on poles to indicate levity.) Anyway, for the rest of the meeting I recited the lyrics of American Pie in my head to calm myself. (By the way, this works very well. I recommend it.)

The meeting ends eighty minutes after it began.

I’m dying with fatigue and I’ve still got to get through School Council.

I should just pack Curriculum Committee in. So much stress is not good. But I enjoy other aspects of being English Coordinator. Curriculum Committee is simply penance for The Fraud.

Same day. Six on. Double Year 12, double Year 7, double Year 10.

And I haven’t even started on the oxymoronic Professional Learning Teams.


Ben McFerren said...


We started a free site called teachade for teachers and I was wondering if you'd take a look to see what you think. Basically we're looking to build a community of teachers to support each other through professional development and resource exchange. We're looking for your input and suggestions on how to improve the site. Hope to see you join us and participate.


Hg said...

Your description of the curriculum sounds like my section meetings. As a first year teacher, I'm not sure whether it is comforting that those people are everywhere or something I should be bothered about...