Note: Again I started this post long, long time ago, and never bothered to actually put it out into the cybersphere. I am almost a month into school, so this is old news. Enjoy.
So, it’s back to school again, Maxwell. Even though I did relatively nothing this summer, I was not at all eager to get back to the ol’ grind. I guess maybe my school was not so happy to have me back either, as I didn’t receive my Welcome Back letter until three days before I was supposed to show up, but show up I did, on account of I’m all about having an income.
The week before the students come back to school, teachers have to go to in-service, or professional staff development. I remember when I first started teaching, lo those many years ago, when I thought that I would benefit from being professionally developed by a staff, which, as I am certain you realize, is much better than being infected by one. However, year after year, as pointless, tedious in-service gave way to ridiculous, intelligence-insulting staff development, I’ve sort of lost the mirthful expectation of enlightenment. Nowadays, I bring a book. I bring snacks. Next time I am going to bring Valium.
However, there were two big surprise to this year’s in-service.
First, no foldables; of course, there were still word walls and enormous flip charts and lots of presentations given through sound systems that malfunctioned, which was kind of a blessing. The genius of origami learning through foldables was replaced by educational games (this year featuring puzzle pieces, m&ms and balloons!) and the ever popular chartsngraphs. Chartsngraphs are nothing new, but this year they had a new look to them; instead of simple pie or bar charts, these had multiple axis lines (axes? axises? axisili?), quadrants, and trajectories. I was in charge of our tables’ chart, and I drew an octopus in three colors. It had teeth and breasts – big ones. Eight of them.
Except for a new teacher, everyone else in my group was on his or her Iphone, playing Words With Friends, or on Facebook. One dude was snoring lightly, and I truly think one of our coaches was sexting a clerk who works in the attendance office, so clearly, it was up to me to represent our table. When I put our chart on the wall with the others, I was very impressed with how elegantly the octopus was picking her nose with one of her tentacles while pickpocketing a sand dollar from the Speedo of a surfer. It’s not so easy to look nonchalant when committing a crime, and even more difficult for an artist to portray that using giant flip chart paper and only three colors.
One of the math teachers noticed my happy appraisal of my work, followed my eyes, and sighed. He got up, took the giant flip chart paper down, and in five seconds drew up a new one that had x’s and y’s and plotted points and not only quadrants but eightdrants full of words like synthesis and analysis. It was all in black marker. He stuck his up on the wall where mine had been and shook his head at me. I would have complained, but it was time for lunch.
I had a glass of wine at lunch. Maybe a glass and a half. Who’s counting?
When I got back, just the teensiest bit tardy (I didn’t feel tardy!), I was knackered. Lunch can be so draining. Fortunately, it was time for movies.
Film is always an integral part for staff development. We have flicks on Blood Borne Pathogens (always a thriller!), Your Responsibility in the Face of Child Endangerment (an hour-long documentary that teaches you -spoiler alert!- to call if you suspect abuse…as opposed to doing nothing, I guess…), and the gem in the crown, the Sexual Harassment video.
In the past, the movies at our school have been marked with unfortunate technical failures. These mechanical flaws have made the videos bearable at least, hilarious at best. We once watched a video on a 23-inch tv on the middle of a stage 30 feet away from us in an auditorium where the lights went out and the sound didn’t work. The teachers sat quietly through the first 15 minutes, but the cover of darkness and lack of sound proved too much for them. Soon people were shouting quasi-sensical, inappropriate comments like. “That’s no germ – it’s a sperm!” or random releases of hostility like, “Mr. Creighton is an asswipe!” Finally the principal allowed us to leave, but, as I mentioned, the lights were out and there are no windows in the auditorium, so for five minutes all anyone could hear was uncomfortable wooden seats being lifted and then people falling over each other as they attempted to make their ways down the aisles.
Those were the days.
This brings me to the second surprise of the day. I settled in for the double feature du jour; “High Blood Pressure- Silent Killer” and “Sexual Harassment – Stop It!” The room – we were in the girl’s gym – was close and warm, as the air conditioner, never fully functional in the best of times, was wheezing asthmatically in the thousand degree heat of the summer. Lunch was weighing down on me while the lights dimmed. I gently nodded out, floating into the comforting, deep sleep that one can only get in a high school during a movie after lunch.
And then I heard it, from the outer edges of my consciousness – the Sexual Harassment film was pulling me back into alertness because….
…it was AWESOME! It had a real 20 year old super hot high school girl with long frosted hair telling about how her chemistry teacher had made her feel uncomfortable. The girl who portrayed the girl who evidently got laid was a very earnest actress. She elevated the what could have been a bit part into a tour de force of melodrama. She did a lot of that “laughing-to-hide-the-pain-look-at-my-brave -face-but-oh-how-I’m-crying-inside” stuff, rubbing her smooth brow (no matter how good of an actress she was, she’s still only twenty!), and smiling that particular sorrowful smile where the grin is lopsided and the corners turn down. She snivelled, she whined, she was rueful as hell. I would have found her too annoying to harass, but who am I to judge the fictional chemistry teacher?
Then there was a lady principal who stood in a back lit classroom door in a shapely red power suit while she blackmailed a male teacher who sat sweating behind his desk. She was hilarious. I took notes on what she said – she had some great double entendres- so that I could share it with you, but I wrote them on the thick packet of very important information I got at staff development that I accidentally threw away later that evening. Trust me when I say she was really funny. I laughed out loud. Some people turned to look at me, but I didn’t care. The only thing that could have made it was popcorn.
But that wasn’t even the best part. The best part was this very well-educated lunch lady was complaining that even though she was a professional, this douchebag teacher kept hitting on her. She went into a reverie type flashback and we saw her abuse. The teacher had a swagger and a sense of his own irresistibility that couldn’t be shaken despite the “school spirit” t-shirt, tie and leisure jacket he sported. He wore all white tennis shoes, like a creepy nurse.The dignified lunch lady tried to fend off his advances, but no avail. “Mr. Smith, I am a professional!” she protested.
“Aw, Prudie! Call my by real name – Pimp Daddy!”
That, my friends, is Sexual Harassment video gold. It doesn’t get any better than that.