Thursday, August 14, 2008

annoying, sir you are it

Yes I'm aware I still have a Chicago post to finish up.  I'm bored with myself.  Sorry.

At the end of the school year a Math conference was offered (for free!) to our division.  I do love the free, and it was going to be facilitated by Florence Glanfield who I have never worked with and is a big guru around these parts.

Drawing closer to conference date I was growing more and more skeptical of my decision.  There was no information about the actual plan except the title "Coming to Know...  Mathematics" and my gut was telling me it was going to be 95% elementary teachers.  Not that I have anything against elementary math teachers, we just typically have different concerns and issues.  Finally, the day before the conference, they posted an agenda - it did not reassure me that this was going to be two awesome days, totally worth giving up precious deck time to.

Whatever.  I got up this morning and was determined to be positive about it.  I was pretty sure I would learn something, even though it might not be as action packed as I have grown accustom to over my last year of absolutely stellar PD.  They were providing early coffee and lunch on both days so if I needed to bail Friday afternoon so what?

I arrived and had my initial concerns somewhat validated - the secondary crew was very petite.  And "the plan" evolved very slowly as our two facilitators appeared to get caught up in vocalizing their own ideas for just over an hour before moving to engage the rest of us.  However, aside for that, I had the good fortune to sit next to a man who was clearly much more  unimpressed than I.  Not only was he unimpressed, he thought the simple commonality of our shared grade level would make us allies in complaint all day long.

After today, I have serious concerns about the future of Math in Regina.  This man could not be appeased!  We had excellent dialogue as grade group specialists all day (on and off topic) and he was just so focused on what he would not do - which was almost everything.  For some reason, he kept trying to draw me into his little world of hate, even after I said I was likely one of those "touchy feely math people" (that he really doesn't like, damn huggy elementary teachers!), said I was very against old evaluation practices, and thought I'd made it very clear that you would use more than just a traditional pencil and paper approach in my room.

I would have been slightly more sympathetic to this man and his hatred of all things not drill related had he simply been an old math teacher.  Old habits are hard to break, change is difficult, these new questions have no real "comprehension" as of yet - math teachers are still really questioning how to marry this new trend to really encourage deeper understanding with being able to do.  I think elementary teachers, little credit we give them, are far more comfortable in this regard, even if it is because their curriculum is less complex and their standards slightly more flexible.  This man, however, isn't an old close to retirement senior math teacher pining away for the good old days when kids would memorize their trig identities and regurgitate math algorithms.  This man, is the math consultant for the entire Catholic School Board.  Someone promoted him into a position where he is supposed to support teachers in getting kids to love math and he is rolling his eyes at the back of the room at the very notion that we should share our ideas on a piece of large paper with everyone else.  He is trying to sabotage professional dialogue because it feels a little too touchy feely for his liking, a little too fluffy.  

I hope he chooses not to come tomorrow.


Chris said...

Depressing. Did he ruin the entire thing for you? I don't understand why some people are teachers...

chelle said...

He was better day 2. I liked that no one was willing to entertain him in his lame-ness from our group.