I regularly attend teaching conferences and get new ideas, tips, and tricks for my teaching practice. I’m even willing to tolerate that stomach-churning dread that I’ve been doing it wrong all this time.
Since this book and TV-loving couch potato runs the risk of meeting no new people ever, conferences also provide low pressure opportunities to talk to other people and then promptly forget them forever. The problem is, I don’t meet any “new people.” I meet the same six people every time.
Similar to the five people you meet in Heaven, since it’s for real, there are six people you’ll meet at a teaching conference (one of them isn’t going to Heaven).
1. The Know it All
We’re all used to being the one standing up front with the chart paper, but The Know it All can’t get oriented to the fact that they’re not. They interrupt, direct their comments to the group instead of the facilitator, and have no questions. Email signature: “People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use. – Kierkegaard”
2. The Resume Giver
Starts every sentence with either “In my class…”, “The way I do it is…”, or “This reminds me of the way that I…” They are similar to The Know it All, but where TKiA is arrogant and intractable, TRG is covering up a core of insecurity and hoping to be validated for what they already do. Or is just off their meds. “This reminds me of something I did as Teacher of the Year.” Also, refers to resume as “curriculum vitae.” Email signature: Board Certified Teacher.
3. The Murtagh, a.k.a. The “I’m too old for this shit” Veteran
Quickly outs herself with immediate long-winded comment about how this will never work. Email signature: Teacher
4. The Noob
Easy to identify by all of the smiling and nodding while taking copious notes. Email signature: a quote by Jean Piaget
5. Mr. Keating
Loves the sound of his own intellect. Teaches outside the box in a Transcendentalist utopia far above you. Writes poetry during breaks, or if you’re really, really unlucky, has brought his guitar. Email signature: A Walt Whitman poem. An obscure one you casual readers have never heard of.
6. The Facilitator’s Pet
Quick on the hand raise just like The Know it All and The Resume Giver, yet lacks the long-suffering “Fine, I’ll help you with your stupidity problem” body language. The Facilitator’s Pet has one goal: be the favorite. They may or may not polish apples. Prefaces questions or comments with “You really blew my mind”, “I’m sure I’m wrong about this”, or “How can someone without your amazing skill implement this strategy?” Email signature: A quote by Waylon Smithers
I’ve inhabited all of these personas to some extent (I don’t play guitar). If I am sitting with a bunch of Murtaghs, I get Nooby and apple-polishy. Fighting my tendency to be a know-it-all is a personal struggle. It isn’t easy to be this bright, talented, and well-read.
I’m struggling to accept that my school year begins in two weeks. I’d like to attend a conference where the objective is to organize all of the information learned at conferences and plan the semester accordingly. In the past year, I’ve gone to an AP conference, a classroom management seminar, and a Common Core reading conference. Now, I need to sit at a ten-top with white linen in a hotel ballroom for 5 days and plan how to incorporate all of this into my lessons. Preferably with a $50 per diem. Where do I sign up for that conference?