I Feel The Same Way About Meetings As My Students Feel About School

The new school year started last week (*grumble grumble* year-round schedule *grumble grumble*). And as any teacher knows all too well, the few days prior to the start of school is chock-full of teacher in-service days.

These are days when we get to attend meetings and learn all about the goals in education for the upcoming year.

This year, the latest development is something called the Common Core Standards. For the record, the Common Core actually seems pretty cool. The point of the Common Core isn’t to cram students full of random facts dictated by the state government (i.e., the content standards we’ve had to adhere to for years now).

No, the purpose of the Common Core is to help kids learn to think critically, to analyze information across different subjects, and to think on a deeper level than simply memorizing content.

Objectively, this is pretty awesome. And that’s what a good chunk of the teacher in-service days entailed this year – getting ready to adopt the Common Core and figuring out how we’re going to make the transition.

So yes, I did feel excited that I might actually be able to teach now, not just dispense knowledge. And that definitely felt good on some level.

And yet….

The whole time I was sitting through these meetings, I just couldn’t bring myself to give a crap. I mean, I know this information is important. I know it will be vital to prepare myself as we begin the transition to the Common Core.

At the same time, I also know it will be a slow transition, and it’ll be a while before I have to seriously consider all these new goals.

That’s when the procrastination lobe of my brain took over.

And I ended up spending a good chunk of these meetings slyly chatting with my co-workers whom I hadn’t seen in over a month… checking Facebook on my phone… texting people… playing Words With Friends….

I mean, I was (more or less) paying attention and filing away this information for later retrieval. I just had other, more pressing matters on my mind. You know, like figuring out how to get that Q on a triple-letter space, while simultaneously hitting the triple-word space three letters away….

And that’s when I had an epiphany:

The attitude I have towards teacher meetings is the exact same attitude my students have towards school. Deep down, on some level, they know it’s important for them to be in class, to learn new skills, to attend school every day and graduate.

But, they also know they have time to develop these skills, they have time before they need to graduate. So, they just can’t get themselves engaged in class. And that’s when they start slyly chatting with their classmates whom they haven’t seen in over a month… checking Facebook on their phones… texting people… playing Angry Birds….

I get it now.

So, ironically, the most important lesson I learned during my teacher in-service this year was how to put myself in my students’ shoes – how to commiserate with them as they stare blankly back at me from behind their little desks (*grumble grumble* year-round schedule *grumble grumble*).

Maybe, just maybe, this added spark of commiseration will help me figure out a way to convey some immediate relevance to what I’m trying to teach my kids….

Thank you, teacher in-service days. I definitely learned something from you this year.

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