Thursday, September 22, 2016

Short Stories from a Middle School Teacher: Welcome Back

Welcome Back Everybody!
Every school system I have ever had the privilege of working at has held a convocation to welcome the teachers back from summer break. I don’t know about you but I can’t think of a better way to get teachers pumped for the upcoming school year than to stick them in a hot and musty high school auditorium for three hours and COMMANDING them to be better than the previous year. I can think of better ways to pump teachers up such as: giving us an extra day of summer vacation in lieu of attending convocation, recognizing accomplishments we have made instead of reminding us in all the areas we could have done better, giving us our standard pay increase. Hell, even giving me a shiny new quarter would pump me up more than a well executed convocation.

During my fifth year of teaching I walked into the school avoiding most everyone I could so I didn’t have to do the obligatory, “How are YOUUUUUU?! How was your summer? Did you cut your hair? Happy to be back?” song and dance with them. Just say hello (or even nod) and move on if you don’t have an actual relationship of some sort with me. Does anyone really enjoy these fake and forced encounters or am I just extremely anti social and rude? I am always tempted to look at the person and said, “Well honestly I’m not great because I am here and having to carry on this conversation. My summer was fine until about 18 minutes ago. Yes, of course my hair looks different you have not seen it in three months, and now that I have told you all that, I think you can answer that last question for yourself. Okay, nice to see you, byeeee!” Instead I engaged in the song and dance with at least a dozen coworkers with something that resembles a smile on my face before we are shuffled like cattle into the auditorium.

I hate convocation but the only thing that I hoped for was that this convocation would have something that could top the amusing moment from the previous years. That year they had hired an inspirational speaker to come and talk to us about showing affection towards students. This woman suggested that rather than touching children, which could be misconstrued, we should instead hug children with our eyes. She demonstrated her technique for us with a squint and a flutter of the eyelashes. A fellow co-worker, Kristen, was sitting next to me and began trying out the technique on me. After eye hugging many unsuspecting people that day we determined that looking at a student like that would get us in more trouble than giving them a pat on the back.

My friends and I sat down and began to wait for convocation to begin. Thirty minutes after the shindig should have started, we heard that they we are waiting for the band teacher to locate and set up a keyboard on the stage. Forty-five minutes after the powwow should have started a teeny tiny little old man (that I could swear looks exactly like what a human leprechaun should look like) walked onto the stage to introduce himself as our new superintendant. The first thing that he made everyone in the room was say good morning approximately four times until he felt that we had the right timbre of pep in our voices to satisfy him. (I would like for someone to explain to me why people in positions of power always want you to say good morning to them louder and louder. Why kind of perverted power trip is that? Just let me remain in my seat, in my head, in my happy place, ignoring you.) He told us that he was retired but decided to come back for one more year. He read us some sort of inspirational quotes and said that nothing says school to him like hearing the “Pledge of Allegiance” and hearing “My Country Tis’ of Thee.” He then asked us to stand and repeat the pledge with him. While the pledge is being said I began to notice something odd about my friend, Paul who was standing next to me. Paul was LOUDLY over enunciating every single word to the “Pledge of Allegiance.” Crotchety old ladies started to turn around and look for the culprit. When they finally locked their eyes on Paul he would put on a face of utmost seriousness and sincerity that they would smile at his patriotism and turn back around. These same old ladies would turn back around and shame me when I began laughing at Paul.

After we sat down the need for the keyboard was revealed to us. The band teacher began to play “My Country Tis’ of Thee” while the elder high school warbled his way through the song. Throughout the song I sat in disbelief that they made us sit for forty-five minutes in a crowded musty room while they searched for a keyboard and someone to massacre a beloved song so that our new superintendant could boast visual and somewhat auditory aids at the end of his five minute speech.

When the song was over a member of the school board office took the podium says with a smile, “My, what an inspiring rendition of “My Country Tis’ of Thee” that was don’t you think? Mmmm-Hmmm.!”

-----Before I go any further it is imperative that I explain what type of person this school board member is. She is the type of woman who is always smiling and excited no matter what she is saying to you. It doesn’t matter if she is saying, “Good morning” or “I’m sorry we are going to have to let you go, but imagine all that time you will have to scrapbook now!” she always has that stupid smile plastered on her face. You can never tell how she feels about a subject except to make you think that every moment in life is one full of glee. In turn, this makes her out to seem like the fakest person you will ever meet. I think that the first day back to school doing the obligatory song and dance with each person must be a moment of pure and unadulterated joy for her because she gets to practice her “Glee face.”-------

But I digress back to the moments immediately after the unfortunate singing of “My Country Tis’ of Thee” the Glee woman takes that stage and says with a smile, “My, what an inspiring rendition of “My Country Tis’ of Thee” that was don’t you think? Mmmm-Hmmm.!”

Kind of puts a new spin on those words when you know her background doesn’t it?

After that I am fairly certain I blacked out from boredom because the next thing I knew I was being forced to stand and clap before being herded out of the auditorium and into the cafeteria for a three hour faculty meeting where I was forced to say, “Good afternoon!” a variety of ways.

I love teaching!!!

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