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Shall We Discuss the Plate?

Angela Buzan Education, Life in the Classroom

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A satirical dialogue wherein the extraneous obligations of a teacher are mysteriously transferred to a professional in another field.

[setting: The Sizzler next door to The Radio Shack on the old part of town.]

 

Terry: Bob, thanks for meeting with me tonight. We are so excited to have you as this year’s keynote speaker for the annual Aviation Inventory Suppliers Conference. You truly are an expert in your field— the stakeholders highly respect what you are able to do.

Bob: Thank you.

Terry: I’m glad you’ve agreed to meet with me; some things have changed since last year. First off, there’s been a formidable increase in registration. You’ll go ahead and deliver the presentation five times tomorrow, with approximately the same number of participants you had last year.

Bob: Five times?

Terry: Yes, but don’t worry. You get breaks in between each session.

Bob: Oh, that’s good. I guess I’ll have time to revise the lecture based on feedback from each group.

Terry: Well, it’s four minutes—but yes.

Bob: Four?! Goodness. How will I have time to use the restroom?

Terry: Ah! Restrooms! Good question! Those’ll be down the hall, past the Business Center, and near the elevators.

Bob: By the hotel desk? That far?

Terry: [giving no acknowledgement of Bob’s last response] Now, here are the registration forms. You’ll need to record attendance for each participant within the first ten minutes of your presentation. Here are the handouts you e-mailed me—go ahead and run those copies yourself. If the machine jams, just hit it a few times. [shuffles papers] Ah, this is something called a Performance Log. It’s important that you assess whether or not the participants are retaining content from your session; you’ll need to devise some way of gauging their participation and performance. Oh, you’ll also want to deliver an exit survey. Be sure to design and administer it yourself. And Bob, it’s good to read all of the answers and analyze the data therein. The higher ups are really big on data analysis this year.

Bob: I think you’re confused. I’m the expert in the field. I’m here to talk about aviation inventory and supplies. Many of these things are logistical—records and such…who is my secretary?

Terry: Right. Budgeting and all—secretaries aren’t really…listen, you’ll be fine—just make sure you have accurate data, you know where all participants are at all times, and that you are able to deliver a state-of-the-art lesson. We’re competing with China, you know.

Bob: Oooohkay… I guess I could take care of some of these things at lunch.

Terry: I wouldn’t advise it; you’ll only have 26 minutes. Also, some of the participants will want to talk to you during that time. Minor things really: they didn’t understand a slide or they need help finishing their notes. Occasionally you’ll get a participant who doesn’t have any friends at the conference so they’ll just want to eat with you.

Bob: Excuse me?

Terry: Righto. Let’s see what else… almost forgot! Duties! You’ll need to stand in front of the hotel before and after the conference for parking lot duty.

Bob: [deep barrel laugh] I’m the presenter. I’m the expert in aviation; I’m not a security guard.

Terry: Yes, well, sometimes the participants get a little excited. They like to chase each other. We do get the occasional fight from time to time. Just break them up positively— don’t physically grab anyone; you’re not a bouncer. Don’t want to get sued [chuckles under his breath].

Bob: [murmuring to self] What kind of Lewis Carroll nonsense is this?

Terry: Just a few more extraneous details. [reading from a list on his clipboard] Let’s see…the internet may work intermittently—the higher ups encourage you to just restart your computer during the presentation, but to remember to keep the attendees engaged. Uh…some of the attendees will not want to be there—not really interested in aviation because they are going into other fields—dentistry is a big one, haha… Sometimes participants forget their materials—they’ll likely just walk up to the table by the podium and take your pencil, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…

Bob: [eyes widen]

Terry: The hotel will have lots of information for you. You’ll likely receive phone calls—feel free to pause your lecture, answer the phone, and continue on. They may also send someone with a note, in which case they will deliver it directly to you, mid-sentence. I guess the most frustrating bit is the emergency drill.

Bob: Let me guess: I just stop everything and finish the presentation the following day.

Terry: Oh, ha ha, no, no. That time’s gone. Part of the practice, my man. Let’s see, last thing: pay. If you’ll take a look here, this is the figure management is delighted to offer you.

Bob: Not bad for a day’s work! I guess I’m being supplemented for all of the extra duties though, so that’s good.

Terry: Hmmm. I’m afraid you’re confused about the contract. We’ve hired you to present for the next 188 days. This is the sum for that time. [passes Bob a written contract]

Bob: ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-EIGHT DAYS?! [reviews contract] Wait, let me get this right: I’m to present five times a day, five days a week, for ten months straight? When do you suppose I will have time to make those presentations? This salary covers the delivery of content. Shouldn’t we consider how much time I’m going to spend creating these little [holds up peace sign fingers] assessments and [peace fingers] analyzing data?!

Terry: Bob, Bob, you’re being quite negative. You’ll only be working 188 days a year. You know what I would give for that kind of time off? The vacations I would take!

Bob: You’re misunderstanding my concern: this contract literally requires me to present and then go home and continue working. When am I to sleep? This time off you refer to is actually just unpaid time off. Vacations! Compete with China! This is crazy!

Terry: I’m so glad you recognize the time off. What a perk! You’ll have plenty of time to relax and recharge for the following year.

Bob: [talking to self] Following year? Yes, well, I suppose it is a nice calendar year. Perhaps I could spend most of the summer prepping…

Terry: About that time off actually, there are mandatory trainings you’ll need to plan around. Just a few here and there, of course.

Waitress: I have your bill, sir.

Terry: Uh, split it, please.

Bob: [aghast!] This is Sizzler! What kind of company is this?

Terry: Yes, I was impressed too. You really get quite a bit on your plate, don’cha? Good luck tomorrow.

 

 

Angela Buzan is a full time English teacher in the Flagstaff Unified School District. She has eleven years’ teaching experience and has taught all grades seven through twelve. In 2010, she received a Fulbright Teacher Exchange fellowship to Kolkata, India; in 2012 she achieved National Board Certification; in 2014 she earned a Master’s Degree in Curriculum Design and Instruction. Her current challenge is to out-read Gavin, in third period, who typically polishes off three novels a week.

  • http://www.leadfromINtheclassroom.com/ Jess Ledbetter

    Oh my gosh! I laughed aloud so many times! (and cried a little bit inside, too!) The working conditions of teachers are just dismissed as aspects of the job–yet, in any other industry they sound NUTS! It’s time for teachers to advocate for improved working conditions so we can slow the attrition of teachers in Arizona. Thanks for the time you spent on this! So creative and amusing!

  • Lisa Moberg

    That was awesome. Should be shared with every politician who feels they are experts in determining the fate of public education and the working conditions of teachers. Great piece!

  • http://storiesfromschoolaz.org Amethyst Hinton Sainz

    Awesome. My husband presents at conferences as a major part of his job, so I was envisioning him receiving these instructions… yeah, right!

  • http://storiesfromschoolaz.org Amethyst Hinton Sainz

    P.S. This is totally random, but the bird on the coffee mug looks like a Pokemon in the video game I have been playing… LOL.