Saturday, August 25, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again

What a week! Just this morning, while I was getting my hair cut, the stylist asked me how long I've been coming to that salon. I replied that it had been over a year now. Then, later, I thought about it and realized no, no. I've actually only been coming there since April. A whopping 5 months. But such a strange 5 months time-wise that I still have a hard time believing it was not longer.

School started, for me at least, on Monday with a surprise faculty meeting up in the mountains. Surprise, because the district actually scheduled our first day for Tuesday. That wasn't good enough for our principal, though, so we came back a day early to sit through a rather uninteresting course on diversity. I think the intention was to help us fight prejudice in our classrooms and ourselves, but the presenters never really got around to how we should prevent it, or even address it. Rather, they seemed bent on making us believe that it still exists.


Personally, I checked out when they were listing eight "isms", which they said were the key areas of discrimination. Among the expected likes of "racism", "ageism", "faithism", and such was "heterosexism".
When they uncovered that word, my vow of silence (hello Mandy!) shattered.
I raised my hand and asked where that term came from.
They gave a long non-answer.
So I, as politely as I could, pointed out that that particular term seemed inherently biased.
They replied that the majority's point of view, and therefore the prevailing prejudice, is what's reflected in that term; therefore, it's an accurate term.
By now, some of the other teachers picked up on it and began pointing out the fallacies in the term. The program director came to the front of the room to "settle things", and said that yes, while it is a biased term, the perhaps-more-accurate term "sexual orientationism" is long and awkward.

Anyway, that's just a taste of what the 11-hour training was like. I'm proud to say that I did hold my tongue, for the most part, but I'll say here that it felt like an enormous waste of time to me.

So that was our entrance to a new school year. I've had some time in my classroom, where I finally picked an arrangement for the students (four groups of eight, made with two tables pushed together per group - we'll see how bad the talking is). I also am getting better at giving myself permission to not do things. For example, my bulliten boards are covered with a base fabric (to cover up, for example, the swastika some student scribbled on there in ink years ago), but no decorated beyond that. My show posters aren't up, the clocks are still awaiting fresh batteries befor e going up, and I haven't touched the disaster that is the prop cabinet. Still, the room is neat, clean, and I am almost ready.

What I've mostly been doing all week is attending meetings. We had a faculty meeting, a department meeting, a calendaring meeting, and a meeting for the musical. The last one was my own doing, since I started having a mild panic attack when we scheduled musical auditions for the week after Thanksgiving. Which is just one week after the Advanced Drama play wraps up. I still get a surge of panic-laced adrenaline when I think about how freakin' soon that is. It's a necessity, though, which I will explain the cause of in a few more weeks. I'll just say that it's not my news to announce yet, so I'll wait until it's public knowledge because who knows who reads this blog?

I also had a few meetings with Howard, which included his approving my choice for the fall play, his blessing to try to arrange for the entire ninth grade to see a touring production of "Romeo and Juliet", and his approval for me to take a group of students on an all-day (as in 6:00am-9:00pm) field trip to the Shakespeare Festival south of here. I'm excited about all three, and eager to announce the last one to my students on Monday to see how many want to go.

I guess the summary is that it's been a busy week, a warm week, and I'm starting to feel ready for school on Monday. I'm getting a sense of what this year will shape up to be, and I'm excited for it. I've got the usual pre-school jitters, though, and I'm anticipating some tense dreams the next two nights. I have a lot of to look forward to, though, starting with a family trip to San Diego next weekend.

Wish me luck, friends!

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