Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Teacher Training, revisited

It has been brought to my attention that although I titled my last post "Teacher Training," I didn't really talk about the training--just the getting there, and about the school where it was held.
So...for those of you who really want to know about the *training* it is.

I spent a whole day of my life learning how to read compositions written by students with Limited English Proficiency.
I learned that the compositions must be classified as Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, or Advanced High, and I learned how to do that.
I also discovered that I will have to take a test on line to prove that I was actually paying attention, and did indeed learn how to do these things.

It's always been a point of interest, confusion, and irritation, that when teachers are being told how to teach, we get a lot of demands for student centered learning. Interactive learning. Hands on learning. Learning activities to appeal to all kinds of learners, not only the visual/auditory, but also the kinesthetic/tactile, the musically talented, the mathematically inclined, etc. etc. etc.

When teachers are being taught how to teach, what do we get?
Sit there in your chair (sometimes without even a desktop space on which to prop a notepad) and listen while the overhead projector flashes slides of the handout we have in our hands, which reproduces the often fuzzy slides in type so tiny even a gnat would have trouble reading them without a magnifying glass.

I love to be read to.
I love hearing stories read or told aloud.

I hate having a set of slides read to me, if I already have a copy of the slides in my hand, and they are also posted on an overhead screen.

I get tired.
My back hurts.
I get bored.
I get thirsty.
I get hungry.
I get sleepy.
I get cranky.

All the ailments my students complain of during a 45 minute class, with at least three different planned activities, I suffer for 6-8 hours, while sitting and listening.

Fortunately, I don't have to ask for a restroom pass. I just get up and go when I feel inspired to do so, or when my sitter gets numb, or my feet go to sleep.

Usually we are allowed to bring in a drink. Rarely, we are offered some kind of stale snack, or a cup of lukewarm coffee with that powdered cream substitute gunk that reminds me of spackling.

If we are offered real food, that tastes good, that is a training to remember and recommend to friends.

Sometimes the room is cold. Sometimes it is hot and sweaty. Almost always, the chairs are hard and uncomfortable. Seldom do we find a pencil sharpener. So I dress in layers and bring a shawl. Unfortunately, although it is always possible to put on more clothing, it is not always possible to take off enough to be comfortable.

I bring several pencils, pens, and highlighters, as well as my own writing tablet, aspirin, Sucrets, bottled water, gum, and mints, as well as a brown bag lunch, just in case there is no cafeteria. In fact, I have a big tote bag that goes with me to training. Sometimes, I wish I had one of those carts on wheels, with a handle, sort of like a rolling suitcase, because I haul so much stuff with me. I've never quite worked up the nerve to bring a pillow, but have often wished I had one.

Always, I leave feeling cheated somehow. I don't mind being required to go for training. I know that I always have room to grow as a teacher. Occasionally I learn something that gets me excited, and I can't wait to get back to my classroom and my kids and share it with them. I understand why we are required to go to training.

But please, please teach the teachers the way you want us to teach our students.