Tuesday, September 09, 2008

She (eep) Who Hesitates....

I was chatting with some of my students today about the value of mistakes.  This conversation happened during the thirty seconds that they opted to exhibit something remotely resembling appropriate behavior and, as such, was rather brief.  But it was me at my philosophical finest, let me tellya!  A regular guru...that's me!

We also talked about how we can sometimes learn from the mistakes of others if we just pay attention to what's going on around us for 6/10ths of a second.  That little pearl of wisdom didn't exactly "take."  At least I don't think it did.  The fact that they all seemed rather intent upon doing the exact same horrible things would seem to indicate this being the case...

However, I am nothing if not an eternal optimist.  In that spirit, I shall now share with you a mistake of mine from today.  It was a little one.  But it had consequences.  Grave consequences.  Listen carefully.  This will one day save your life.

OK.  Maybe not your actual life.  But it will make you a happier person in the long run and will let you get home at a reasonable hour to use the bathroom in the event that you had no prep. period because of a fire drill, had to spend your twenty minute lunch on the phone with a parent and found every other free minute needed to be spent dealing with your "high spirited" students.

What I learned today was this:

If you are ever asked by One Of The Many Bosses Of You if you have attended the mandatory Sexual Harassment Of Asbestos And Blood Borne Pathogens While Handling Dangerous Chemicals (or something like that...) presentation during your five years of teaching in the school district, do not hesitate before answering.  Do not find yourself questioning if you have completed this required session.  Do not think about it.  Do not remember that you were hired after the start of school and that you probably didn't have the privilege.  Do not wonder if honesty is the best policy.  

I repeat:  Do Not Hesitate.  Just say that you did it.  Everyone already thinks that you did.  If you hesitate, you are busted.  You will have to fly out of school without using the bathroom, taking any painkillers to quell that horrible headache that has settled into your noggin or being able to put together the plans for tomorrow.  You will be spending your afternoon at the high school with the new staff watching videos and discussing blood 'n vomit.

In short, you are doomed.  And it all goes back to that nanosecond where you hesitated.  

I hope that I have helped someone out there today.  I need to believe that my grievous error in judgement will serve as a lesson to those who come after me.  This will give some meaning to the forty-five minutes of my life that are now forever lost and the visions seared upon my brain of poorly staged vignettes acted out by underpaid thespians in order that I might better understand what sexual harassment looks like.

I didn't even dare to knit during the presentation.  I had the sock right there in my bag.  But the afternoon's festivities were presided over by the superintendent and his second-in-command.  I'd scored a couple of brownie points by being an honest sort of Sheepie and sitting through this.  I didn't quite dare to risk that by breaking out the hobby-type behaviors.  

To add insult to injury, I'll be even later getting home tomorrow.  Each year, we fling open the doors to the school and invite all parents to come in for Open House.  We meet.  We greet.  We share.  We laugh.  We hope that we can make parents feel more comfortable with the school program and put faces to the names on the staff roster.  It is a good thing.  A very good thing, indeed.  

But it makes for a late dinner, especially when you live some distance from the school and these things often don't wrap up until 7:00 or later.  Thankfully, tomorrow is the night of the Wednesday Night Bullet Post and I don't really have to think much in order to get that one done.  I'll certainly be able to drop a note, but it might be later than usual.

I also don't get much in the way of parent participation given that I have a smallish caseload and already know most of the families pretty well by this point.  I might even be able to break out that sock during the lull...

And if anyone asks about the asbestos, I'll have answers at the ready!



trek said...

I shall endeavor to remember this pearl (purl?) of wisdom.

Right now, however, I am frustrated beyond belief at my students and am seriously considering failing the whole darned class for the sins of a few...

Yarnhog said...


I cannot imagine actually having to spend all day, every day, in the company of middle schoolers. My friend's daughter, now in high school, refers to middle school as "the lost years." I think of it as "purgatory." There isn't enough money in the world to convince me to be 13 again. I have been dragged, kicking and screaming, back into that world as the mother of a brand new middle schooler. And it occurred to me at Back to School Night (aka Open House) that I will be trapped in purgatory for six more years.

Kath said...

Honesty is not always the best policy. In a perfect world it would be, and it most certainly should be, but unfortunately sometimes a smooth, quick lie just makes life easier. Or at the very least saves you from an afternoon of training videos!

Brandie said...

Training sessions like that, are IMO, a big waste of time.
I'm so sorry you hesitated and had to go again. Hope tomorrow's meet and greet goes well though!

Mia said...

Yarnhog had it right


I always knew there were reasons I never liked school.

And I like mandatory training sessions even less.

Donna Lee said...

I have to take the "Handling blood borne infectious asbestos and fire safety with hazardous chemicals" every year. It's a computer based program here and it's set up so that everyone races through. I've probably picked up a few pointers over the many years I have done it but just a few. I hope Open House goes tolerably well.

Karen said...

You know they really should treat after school training and back to school night like a happy hour. Serve drinks and little snacks. Let everyone mingle and get acquainted. That would help a lot.

Anonymous said...

I teach HS and we have our open house tonight, too. I have planned my week so that my one eaten out meal a week will fall tonight. There is no way I am going to wait to eat until 7:30 (or later).

oh -- and for video horror stories -- I once had to sit through one called the "Red Tape Monster" that still haunts my nightmares.

Good luck tonight!

Anonymous said...

Hearing stories like this makes me realize just how much you deserve your summers off! I promise to remember that next summer and not give you grief (yeah, right).

Anne said...

Didn't someone once say... She who hesitates is lost?

Pretty sure they did.

Good luck!

Ronni said...

We used to have to do those workshops at my first place of employment. We used to call the one on sexual harassment "how to sexually harass someone without getting fired or leaving the company open to lawsuits" because, dude, that's totally what it really was.

P.S. I'm a bit worried about how fast "dude" has crept into my daily vocabulary.