Wednesday, August 29, 2007

deja vu....all over again

I'm two days into the new school kids yet just professional days, mostly meetings and preparations for classes. Here's a little anecdote that fairly well illustrates what for me are some of the most obvious differences between teaching in the US and in France.
I'm sitting in a cafeteria eating breakfast along with a hundred and fifty other people, mostly teachers from all the k-12 schools in our district. We are here to kick off the school year by catching up with friends and colleagues over a muffin, some eggs and sausage, and a cup of coffee. We will be hearing remarks from the district superintendent, the school board chairman, and all the building principals who will introduce new staff members.
I wander in, get some food and find a table with a retired teacher (now a school member), acouple of high school colleagues, a biology teacher and a social studies teacher. We chi t chat about sports mostly and then another teacher comes up to speak with me. It turns out that he has a son who will be in one of my classes.
Great, I say.
I just want you to know that he has a soccor match next Tuesday, the first day of school.
Don't tell me what I think you're going to tell me," I say.
"We're just wondering, you know, if it's a problem or anything?"

I am doing a much better job of digesting the dry muffin than I am digesting this message. I can scarcely believe what I'm hearing, and when I'm hearing it. I'm less than a half hour into the welcome breakfast and already I have kids excused(by the school no less) from their very first class of the year?
The opening day pre-test I had rather ambitiously planned on giving my students is but a glimmer in my imagination, but now some of the luster has been taken off by the fact that whatever I do, it'll be missed by whoever is playing soccer and football that day...probably a significant number of kids. So much for assuming that anything that I do in the classroom is anywhere close to being as sacred as a soccer match or a football game. So much for hitting the ground running. Guess I'll just stumble out of the gate and try to
I look across the table at the biology teacher who happens also to be the soccer coach. He is clearly embarrassed by the conversation. He shrugs helplessly and says, "I didn't schedule it. The athletic director did."
I tell myself, eat your breakfast, just eat your breakfast.
It's way too early in the year for a rant....instead, I just say to my colleagues, "I'm not in France anymore."


Anonymous erin said...

Oh Dad- I'm sorry that that's how you started your school year. At least your students in Pendleton will never have soccer games...

6:28 AM  

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