Ah, The Elusive Prep

A few people commented on my First Year Tales of Woe yesterday and mentioned preps.  Ah, preps.  Just the thought of them sends me into an emotional tizzy.  If tizzy is even a word that is – Big Mama Mimi uses it, so I figure it has to be legit.

I mean, initially, the thought of a prep brings a smile to my face.  The 45 uninterrupted minutes in my day to furiously check things off my list or perhaps have an inspirational, motivational and overall productive work session with my Super Colleagues.  My inner nerd is practically dancing with joy at the thought.  *sigh*  However, the smile is quickly wiped from my nerdy little face when I think of the reality that is the prep.  Unfortunately, all too often they are not the productive utopias I imagine in my brain.  (Although when they ARE…oh the HEAVEN of it all!!)  The reality is that nine preps out of ten do not belong to you.  In fact, you can practically hear the Powers That Be snickering, “SUCKA!” under their breath as they inform you of all the mandatory (and unproductive) meetings you will have to attend during your so called “prep” period.  Call my crazy, but I always thought “prep” was short for “preparation” not “bullshit time waster,” but maybe I’m just not seeing it clearly.  That’s right, maybe it IS me.  Because really?  The only “preparation” going on for most of my preps was preparing myself to not leap across the table and strangle someone and/or scream in frustration over the wasted minutes in my day by doing intense amounts of deep breathing.

Now that I think about it, perhaps “prep” really is short for “prepare your patience to be tested” or maybe “prepare the mental list of things you will have to take home with you since you lost your prep.”  Yeah, that MUST be it.

As icing on my non-existent prep sundae, I got to deal with colleagues who believed that classroom teacher were “prep hungry” since we tried to switch our free periods on field trip days or, you know, got frustrated from time to time by all the lost time.  Kind of makes you want to scream, right?

But before you click away from this blog, I don’t want to leave you with thoughts that make your poor (potentially vacationing) hearts pound.  Because all those jacked up preps?  All those meetings?  All that useless paperwork?  It just makes those mystical, wonderful and uber-productive time with your colleagues that much sweeter when it actually happens.  (And my nerdy little smile is BACK!)

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  • Ahh, prep time. I would have given anything to have a prep time the five years I taught in a one-room schoolhouse. No prep, free lunch, or bathroom breaks for me. It was all kids, all the time! (This would explain the premature greying.) And by the way, this was only 4 years ago.

    February 17, 2010 at 9:33 pm
  • I am working at an international school and I am in awe of the number of 45 minute preps that teachers get within a day! Much different than the 20 minutes I had in the US

    February 17, 2010 at 9:33 pm
  • Sing it, Sista!!!

    We went down to 3 preps (from 5) this year, with New Principal, and at least one of those each is used for grade level meetings, and most weeks at least one other is used for "bullshit time waster," as you so eloquently put it!!

    February 18, 2010 at 1:21 am
  • You need a better contract. 😉 We are guaranteed 120 minutes of prep time during the school day and 200 minutes outside of the school day. One time Principal Pretty scheduled an RtI meeting that overlapped with our prep time, and (since I hadn't remembered the meeting and was really peeved) I made her sign a lost prep form which got me 20 bucks.

    My issue with prep time is the apparent huge disparity between elementary and secondary. We get 30 minutes, 4 days a week while they get two or three 45-minute preps PLUS lunch every day. No wonder they never have to take any work home!!!

    February 18, 2010 at 3:21 am
  • "Lost prep form?" Now that sounds interesting. I'm meeting with our negotiations team next week…

    It's amazing how important minutes are to teachers. I recently spent some time sitting in the hospital waiting for outpatient surgery on my foot. It was scheduled for 8:30. At 8:45 we (my wife's a teacher, too) asked a nurse what was happening and she said that it had been changed to 9:30. No one had said anything. As they were wheeling me away at 9:00 I said something about the times being all messed up…the response was, "Oh we're used to 'hospital' time." There were legitimate reasons for the delay, of course, but it occured to me that they don't have the same feeling about "a minute" as we do in school. If my "40 minutes" of prep is cut by a minute…if I'm a minute early to ___, or if the ___ teacher sends my students back 2 minutes early…it's a major disaster. Every minute is precious…

    February 18, 2010 at 12:49 pm
  • Do we really want to start a pissing contest about the woes of elementary vs. secondary school? Do we? Because the grass is always greener on the other side.

    From a high school teacher who brings things home every day, doesn't get more than 2 preps a week, teaches 4 subjects, runs the NHS, the Spanish club, the Spanish competition team, the concession stand for basketball and football, tutors after school, and has been roped into teaching AP next year. And has probably left things out.

    February 18, 2010 at 12:49 pm
  • Sheldinski – I guess you need a better contract, too. 😉 What you describe is not what I see in my school district. And I will gladly do extra work to not have to deal with teenagers.

    Stu – The lost prep form gets us one co-curricular point for each prep lost. (This year I believe it's $25.) So if a specialist is absent and we lose our prep, we fill it out. During PSSA week when we lose all of our specials because they're in the morning while we're giving the test, we can fill it out for the whole week. Otherwise it doesn't happen a lot (or it seems like some years more than others – this must be an "other" year), but it's something. We turn the forms in quarterly to get paid.

    February 21, 2010 at 1:04 pm

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