Friday, September 30, 2005

Notes From The Education Underground: The Teachwonk Diaries

Today's Episode: The Office Pulls A Three-Alarm Drill In Cluelessness

This entry isn't about about some vitally important proposed change in ed-policy. It's not about our large class sizes, nor is it about NCLB. It's not even about our district superintendent, Dr. Evil. It's about one of the little annoyances that teachers around our school have to put-up with, and which we aren't allowed to complain about. (And nobody wants to be labled as "negative" or, worse, "Not a team-player.") The principal has even made it clear that the time-honored "gripe board" in the teacher's lounge was to no longer have any signed or unsigned complaints written upon it.

This post is about fire drills in the mud.

Schools in our 11 campus district are required to have one fire drill each calendar month. So far, so good. We had our September drill somewhere around the 12th.

Yesterday, our principal decided that it would be good to have an extra fire drill, as, he explained later, the office wanted, "to test the alarm system."

The usual fire drill protocol around Howard Taft Junior High School is that kids and teachers are required to drop everything they are doing and walk single-file from their various classrooms to their assigned positions on the athletic field, where students are then required to sit down in the grass.

All the while, the administrative staff watches and takes appropriate notes on our exiting speed and observed student misbehaviors.

So, to satisfy our prinicipal's need for extra fire drill practice, (He simply couldn't wait until at least the first of October.) we all filed out to our assigned positions on the athletic field, where most students and teachers found themselves lined-up in mud and about two inches of water.

Sitting, of course, was out of the question.

You see, our industrial-strength-for-the-desert irrigation system had put plenty of water on the field the night before, leaving much of it unusable for a couple of days afterward.

The administrators would have known that, if they had bothered to check the field themselves or asked the physical education teachers what condition the field was in.

So nearly all of us teachers stood around in the mud and water for several minutes while The Select took their notes and watched us.

This was not the first time that this had happened.

The mud drill mercifully ended several minutes later when a "return bell" sounded and hundred of kids and teachers with muddy and wet feet returned (again in single-file) to their classrooms and attempted to salvage some instructional time from a thoroughly-disrupted period.

Nothing was said by the members of The Lodge; administrators in our district never admit to making any mistakes.

Just one more pet-peeve that could have been prevented with a little planning and could have been smoothed-over with a quick and sincere admission of the oversight by the parties responsible.

We teachers are making book on whether or not the field will be flooded for the October drill. The smart money says that the odds are 50/50.
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