Just trying to do my job…

In the grand effort to reform schools, a new and trendy idea has been to hire adults to work with the teachers rather than the children, a.k.a. a staff developer. In theory, it sounds like a great premise in which teachers are able to stay current on their practice and learn exciting methods of pedagogy. Ah, but there is the rub my friends…don’t let the title “staff developer” fool you. There is no development going on, at least not where I teach. Unless you consider the possibility that these individuals are hired to develop into a HUGE pain in the arse for teachers. Then yes, they are definitely development going on in that sense.

My favorite staff developer (and I use the term loosely) happens to “specialize” in math. Please note that I placed specialize in quotes…pick up what I’m putting down…and read the following with a very sarcastic tone in mind. I find it ironic that this is the area in which she was chosen to specialize because she has NEVER taught math using the mathematics program that we currently use. And during our mandated weekly meetings, she can barely hold her eyes open long enough to bark orders at us and painfully demonstrate her lack of understanding. Maybe I’m not cutting her enough slack. After all, it must be terribly difficult to place long and complicated breakfast orders each and every morning from 8 to 8:45 while the rest of us are teaching. And then you have to wait for the order, count out money and figure out a tip…yea, I’m a b*tch…of course she’s tired and good at math.

So we were recently sent a fairly obnoxious email that reeked of I’m-going-to-pretend-that-I-actually-do-something from our favorite staff developer (Or is she really in charge of ordering everyone breakfast in the morning?? This is the source of many heated lunchtime debates among teachers…). This lovely and thoughtful email detailed the process by which the teachers are to return ALL of their math supplies prior to Friday June 15th which is exactly eight school days before the last day (God forbid that she put in a full day or –gasp- stayed late to do her job!!). This sucks for several reasons:
1. Aren’t we supposed to be (dare I say it?) teaching until June 25th??

2. It assumes that I intend to walk off with pockets full of Base 10 blocks. Really? As if I’m preparing for an impending place value emergency? Well, maybe my sister will totally flip at the grocery store over the cost of meat for our summer BBQ and I’ll need to whip out some flats and longs so that we can divide the burden into equal shares….hmmm, I guess that could happen…Regardless, I’m totally not going to steal any cubes.

Oooo…wait a minute. My husband always says I make the mistake of assuming that everyone is a teacher and understands “the teacher talk”. For those of you not lucky enough to spend your day with children, Base 10 blocks are tools we use to teach basic place value to children (you know, the hundreds place, tens place and ones place??). Ok, now go back and re-read number 2….we’re pausing….and you’re laughing. Onto number 3!!

3. It’s amazing to me that so many people who sit around all day get to order me around as if I’m the low man on the totem pole. When did teachers get to be the LEAST important people in schools?

4. Did I mention that this particular staff developer totally SUCKS????

However, because I ROCK and always do what I’m told (thanks mom!!), I load up my oh-so-handy overhead projector cart with massive piles of mathematics manuals, manipulatives and more. In my typical anal-retentive fashion, I check off each of the items on my perfectly crisp and freshly printed checklist and head for the elevator. When I arrive at the unofficial breakfast lounge (excuse me) I mean….when I arrive at the staff developers’ office, I become a part of the following scene:

ME: Hey, where would you like all this math stuff?

HER: (while totally slumped over her desk, seriously cheek in FULL CONTACT with the desk.) What?

ME: I brought up most of the math supplies you asked for. Today is the half-day and I had time to do it so I thought I would get it out of the way.

HER: (insert sound of teeth sucking) Well they can’t come in here.

ME: Wait, so the supplies YOU requested be returned to YOU in a timely manner can’t be
put in YOUR office?

HER: No.

ME: Well, they are not going back in my classroom. Where do you suggest they go? Hey, could you pick your head up off your desk or something?

HER (more teeth sucking) They can go in the closet.

ME: On the second floor? Across the hall from my room where I came from? (internal monologue: I hate you I hate you I hate you….DO SOMETHING!!!!)

HER: Yea (head returns to original position, slumped over…maybe there’s bacon hiding somewhere on the desk and tempting her??)

ME: (huge sigh) Ok, is it unlocked? (internal monologue: I hate you I hate you I hate you…get up get up GET UP!! If there is bacon there, it’s cold by now!!!)

HER: I’m not going in there without a mask or something…it’s nasty.

ME: Um, yes, but is it unlocked because I have other things to do….(OH MY GOD…DO

OK…I’ll stop there because the scene then deteriorates into more teeth sucking and bacon hunting. I give up and push my cart full of mathematical fun back down the hall to the elevator. And no, the closet was NOT unlocked when I got there. Figures.

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  • OMG- I totally love you (in a professional and appropriate manner, of course!) You have just verbalized so many of my biggest frustrations into one amusing post. More coffee and dry erase markers for you, my friend!

    July 25, 2007 at 8:41 pm
  • Oh my, we’ve had your staff developer (or, as we fondly call her, the STD) over here as well! Only, ours is in LOVE with business books–things like the way of the “goose” or (favorite of ours) the way of the “beaver” (try saying that to a room of middle school teachers without giggling breaking out). God, does she ever waste time! and money!

    July 28, 2007 at 3:38 pm
  • Hah! Maybe she was drunk.

    September 12, 2007 at 12:36 am
  • I think that I have met my twin sister. I didn’t think that anyone was more sarcastic than me. Ha! We have to do a girl’s trip!

    March 18, 2008 at 1:25 pm
  • Couldn’t you see that she was looking for bacon….clearly she had more important things going on than actually doing her work!!!!

    It amazes me that no matter where go, you’ll always find a school that has someone just like your math coach. I have 3 at my school. Wanna trade?s

    September 28, 2008 at 2:02 am
  • I just found your blog and… I have had your staff development person at no fewer than 4 schools: 2 inner city public, 1 suburban low-income, and 1 small private. In fact, she had twins (by my last year, triplets) at the private school. I never understood why a small private school with 180 students needed 2 curriculum specialists, 1 vocational specialist, 2 principals, 1 director and 2 additional administrators… Now I know: it was so they could find breakfast!

    July 7, 2009 at 3:25 am

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