There are two types of professional development situations teachers find themselves in. There is the type that excites us and motivates us to be better teachers. The type where you immediately log in to Pinterest to extend the lessons you participated in during the training. Immediately you are on Amazon Prime ordering a book related to the training or at better yet, the Dollar Store better watch out because here you come for the materials for the new teacher hacks you learned.
Then there is the type that is a requirement to check off a box. We all know the “should have been an email” training. Or the “I’ve been in this training 27 times. Is there an ‘opt out’ option? Some sort of quiz I can take?” Then there are the tech-savvy teachers saying “Really? Google Docs training? In this type of training should be assigned by age. I learned this in high school.” In the second type of PD, you begin to let your eyes and mind wander. Observations are made. Backstories are created. Teachers are classified. Some teachers may be reading this in a PD (we see you, Texting Tammy).
Come along and enjoy this teacher safari with us but we respectfully request that you do not use flash photography as it may startle Almost Retired Annie and her unkempt hair.
Doodling Donna has the art teacher worried she’s coming for her job. This girl has an affinity for patterns and can draw a mean giraffe. She is often heard saying things like “If I don’t let my pen wander, my brain wanders.” What that actually means “If I don’t draw this octopus surfing near a beach, I may actually say the things I’m thinking about how this training is as useless as teaching an octopus how to surf.” Her drawings reflect both her need to escape to a tropical vacation as well as her daily work with small children. It’s too bad they don’t have glitter glue available in the table supply bucket.
New Here Nancy
New Here Nancy can be picked out of the crowd by her diligent note-taking and seat up near the front. She probably has color-coded notes because she has brought her whole pack of gel pens and a brand new, 3-subject notebook. At the top of the paper is the date and a “staff meeting” header. This stands in stark contrast with Almost Retired Annie and the index card she has from the supply bucket with “160 days” written on it. New Here Nancy asks questions about the standards, the curriculum, and the routines. This girl is invested in the training. She doesn’t yet understand that this new initiative will be replaced by another initiative by the time the ink on her notes dries.
Texting Tammy has other things to do, and she’s not hiding that. She is texting Bored Betty across the room-the updated version of passing notes folded up like footballs. There are a lot of eye roll and sleeping emojis flying back and forth across the vast chasm created by the presenter trying to separate friends by assigning tables. You can put space between friends, but you can’t shut down the wifi. Sorry Presenter Paul. She’s also texting her husband, her daughter, and a friend from college. She never has time to just catch up with people, and teachers are great multi-taskers, right? If she is taking a break from texting, you can see her scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, and ordering things on Amazon Prime. It’s a prime use of time.
Love to Hear My Voice Luke
Love to Hear My Voice Luke does not care that there are audible sighs when his hand goes up. He does not care that we are THREE MINUTES from lunch. All he cares about is that his beautiful mind is on display when he has an audience. And honestly, who wouldn’t be riveted by the incredible teaching feats he is undertaking in his room? Someday, when his inspiring true story of a teacher movie comes out, his colleagues will be glad he shared all of his wisdom with them…..or that they no longer have to listen to it.
Brownie Points Beth
Brownie Points Beth is the only person sitting closer to the presenter than New Here Nancy. Her hand shoots up for every question they ask, and some that they don’t. Have to put a sticky note on a poster? She’s there, and faster than anyone else. Need to have someone act in a skit? Scoot over, Streep; she’s got this. Brownie Points Beth is in hysterics if administration tells a corny joke and is so annoyed at the Chatty Charlies in the back. She practically glows if anyone tells her she made a good point, then she glances to administration to make sure they took note.
Plan and Prep Polly
Plan and Prep Polly starts off fairly inconspicuously working on other things by using her laptop to lesson plan. She could be taking notes. They don’t know. She’s like a more technologically savvy version of New Here Nancy. That is until she breaks out the materials she needs to prep for said lessons. Once the scissors, glue, construction paper, and stapler come out it is a hard sell to convince others you’re still taking notes. Someday Plan and Prep Polly will actually take the fanciest notes ever on a paper link chain just to prove everyone wrong and to set up future success at getting stuff done during professional development.
Almost Retired Annie
This woman is goals. Literally. We all want to be almost to retirement. We want to have that glow that only people who see the light at the end of the working world tunnel have. She’s humming “Toes in the Water” to herself while writing down how many days she has left on a notecard provided by the trainer because…she didn’t bring paper. Or a pen. By the time this training will be used, she will be cruising around the USA in her RV and fishing at the lake. College and Career Ready? Annie is Retirement and Relaxation Ready.
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