My poor sick colleague missed an exciting faculty conference on Monday. I know he is considering coming back to work early, so I thought I should fill him in on all he missed.
The conference began with a short scene from an old I Love Lucy show. Lucy and Ethel were working on the assembly line of a candy factory. Their job was to wrap candy as it came by them. One missed candy and they would be fired. At first the candy came slow. They were able to do the job successfully. The candy started coming faster and faster and they could not keep up. They started eating the candy and storing it in all sorts of weird places to keep their jobs.
Principal Suit asked us why we were seeing this. My good friend R raised his hand to answer. Since R never speaks at any of these things Suit recognized him immediately. R said, with a straight face, "because the kids are selling candy." Suit didn't know what to say to this, didn't recognize the sarcasm, and brushed over this response and called on someone else. Suit finally said the point of all of this was to learn how to prioritize and how to manage all the extra work we are now expected to do.
The sad part of all this is that our working conditions are as ridiculous as the ones portrayed on an old situation comedy, only our working conditions are not comedic, they are sad. They are true. Our problems can't be solved by shoving a piece of candy under our hats or in our mouths. Our products are human beings that require real care, not cover ups. He wanted us to do all that was being sent to us to do, to do anything necessary to get the job done. He wanted us to come up with new ideas to get things done and to share these ideas with others. Me, I just want to get the hell out.
We also discussed the newest cohort that is going to get special watching--African American males in ninth and tenth grade, in the lowest one-third of the city. Finally he is acknowledging what many of us have been saying for years. In a predominately white/Asian middle class school, these kids get lost, they fall through the cracks. But, now that he is being judged by the success of this group, he wants to help them. He still won't give them small classes but he did set up an Inquiry team to "watch them", kind of like what we did with I Love Lucy.
The last part of the meeting, probably the most important part involved the chancellor's regulation on reporting child abuse. It is now the teacher's responsibility to report it. Although teachers are promised confidentiality, we are not anonymous and many of us fear reactions from crazy parents. From what we heard, nothing will be done to protect us. In the past, guidance had been permitted to make these reports.
When the bell finally rang, we all ran out of the auditorium as quick as we could. Nothing like having to stay late during the last week before vacation. And, he wonders why no one wants to go to the holiday party.