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Education Matters: Surviving the dreaded faculty meeting

July 28, 2011|By Dan Kimber

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

I consider myself fairly knowledgeable on the subject of group dynamics of children when they are assembled at a time and in a place that is not necessarily of their choosing — like, for instance, in a classroom.

I am less of an expert when grown-ups gather under similar circumstances, like at a faculty meeting, but I do see some interesting parallels.

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We teachers, if I may speak for a good number of us, generally dread faculty meetings. They happen once a month, regardless of whether there is something that we need to talk about. The topics covered are often hastily prepared to fill the required hour and a half with announcements that could have been easily dispensed with during the regular working hours. Be that as it may, we dutifully and regularly gather together for our “professional collaboration,” leaning toward the exit before we even sit down.

There are a number of things I miss about teaching now that I’m retired, but sitting through faculty meetings is definitely not one of them. I can still picture a room full of rolled eyeballs (“Why does she insist on asking questions at the end of each meeting, prolonging our agony?”), clock watchers (“Get me out of here”), as well as a bunch of adults acting up like the kids they just got through teaching.

Sitting together and joking with friends, talking during a presentation, drawing pictures, grading papers, passing notes, making wise cracks, nodding off — anything but pay attention to yet another Power Point presentation of statistical charts, or an administrator droning on about tardy policy or some other subject of equally compelling interest.

There were meetings where we teachers were made to draw pictures in little groups about what we wanted our school to look like, and on another occasion we jotted down creative ideas on paper plates, and then, on cue, flew them across the room for others to intercept and “catch the idea.” I can’t begin to recount the many, many hours spent in “professional collaboration” that were utter and complete wastes of time.

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