It's how I celebrate the end of the summer: I attend a teacher training. The good news is that since I'm a teacher by trade, I will get paid for the experience. The not-so-good news is that it is being held in an elementary school auditorium. This is the time when we all get to see what it's like for our little charges to sit for hours at a time, listening to information that may or may not be relevant or fresh to us, but it is our duty to internalize it with the express intent of being able to disseminate it at some later date. Thank heaven they give us these great, bulky binders full of suggested lessons and strategies.
Over the years, I've lugged hundreds of pounds of great, bulky binders from this training and that, all in the service of becoming a better and more competent teacher. Nothing I've learned so far this week would make me smarter than a 1912 eighth grader, but I do feel as though I'm gaining some valuable insight into delivering math curriculum. I joked with a neighbor, as I walked past his house on the way up the hill to the school where the training is being held: "It's the new math. Apparently two plus two is actually five, for especially large values of two." And so up the hill I trudged.
Part of the excitement this year comes in the form of being part of the Common Core. If you're a fan of Glenn Beck, you probably know these standards as the bane of education's existence. Being part of the "leftist groups" that support such a reform and makes Glenn and his scary friends get all fussy makes me feel that I must be doing the exact right thing. Right as in correct, by the way. If what I'm doing is indoctrinating kids into a world that allows them to understand why two times two is four, then I will be happy to wear the brown shirt that Mister Beck is insinuating on my back.
Meanwhile, back in the auditorium, dozens of teachers laugh and moan as they attempt to work on the problems that we will soon unleash on our classrooms. A couple of very clever new teachers figured out that you could get more pieces of pumpkin bread with fewer slices by thinking of the loaf as a three dimensional object. We "old teachers" leaned back and realized we still have a lot to learn.
And in a couple more weeks, we have a lot to teach. Those kids aren't going to indoctrinate themselves, after all.