Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Art" Imitating Life?

(Please note that I use the term "art" fairly loosely here... but still it was way too creepy a connection tonight, way too creepy. Seriously, I thought about not posting this, but then it was like my DVR was speaking to me...or maybe Mr. Mimi just travels too much.)

Tonight, as I lay on my couch lamenting the papers that filled my bag (and begged to be graded) as well as the endless pile of laundry that taunted me from the upstairs hallway, I made the very adult decision to ignore it all and catch up on my DVR. I don't know when "catch up on DVRed shows" became a legitimate To Do in my world, but tonight, it seemed pressing. Or easier. Whatever.

(Before I continue, dear readers, I must say that I feel closer to you than ever...for I have just revealed to you my deep, dark secret love for bad television. Pause with me and bask in our closeness.)

Recently, I started DVRing a show called "Sit Down and Shut Up". It's a cartoon about teachers. One of those adult cartoons...like Family Guy (I heart you Stewie!). I could say that I am interested in this show for professional and/or academic reasons (you know, popular image of teachers in the media and all that) but really? People magazine said it was funny and I consider People to be a valid source of news.

(We grow closer still..yes, I also heart People magazine.)

Ok. So on the episode that I DVRed the faux- cartoon school gets observed by the superintendent's entourage to determine if they are indeed an Exceptional School. Throughout the episode, staff members were pictured furiously removing any books that are not approved by the Powers That Be, desperately trying to scrape together an inspirational speech, and basically putting on one hell of a dog and pony show. (With teachers playing the parts of both dogs and ponies of course.) They even showed the principal telling one less than stellar teacher to "just stay away and not talk to anyone."

Hmmmm....verrry interesting. Very interesting indeed.

And timely.

My school also got reviewed recently by the Powers That Be to see if we are Up To Par not too long ago. In preparation for this All Important Visit, buzzwords and bullshit were flying everywhere. Everywhere.

Each day precedeing the visit we received frantic emails declaring that we must "Show evidence of differentiation! The reviewers are coming!", "Have data readily available and on display! The reviewers are coming!" , "Update our bulletin boards! The reviewers are coming!". Custodial staff busily set about waxing the floors and (miracle of miracles) actually sweeping UNDER the desks. Plants were watered, urine soaked bathrooms were bleached...

I half expected The Visionary to be seen streaking down the hallway on horseback shouting, "The reviewers are coming, the reviewers are coming!" as he simultaneously set off the fire alarm to draw attention to this very serious three ring circus. Excuse me, I meant, situation...situation, not circus.

Ahem.

Because why would we want an honest appraisal of our work? Why would we want to show people what we are actually doing?

And tonight, as I sat and watched this cartoon that was intended to be hilarious in it's absurdity, I felt sad.

13 comments:

teachin' said...

That makes me sad too.

Mamie said...

You are my doppelganger. Seriously. I, too, have a mountain of papers and baskets of laundry and an absent mister... and I too am choosing to spend the evening with my friend, the DVR. As for the bullsh*t? Well, I sat through a two-hour "district professional learning community" meeting this afternoon to discuss the results of our recent review, enacted due to our newly acquired NCLB "program improvement" status. It's now all about "fidelity" and "cohesion" and "alignment" and "implementation" and... well, you know the jargon. Gag. I've got to hunt down the "Sit Down and Shut Up" show - sounds awesome!

superdeens said...

Ha ha, I just watched all three episodes of Sit Down Shut Up this past weekend. I think it would be way better as a real person show instead of a cartoon. I love that the only realistic portrayal is the principal, in the worst way possible.

cheers!
six more weeks!

Maestro said...

Ahhh.... School accreditation... a chance for every staff member to pad their daily routine with whatever crap they can come up with (and hope to God that students don't blow the whistle)

I always use the accreditation document binders that they want us to "read and memorize" as door stops.

Laundry - check
Bad TV - Check, although my "Original Sci-Fi Channel Movie" trumps you "Family Guy" ;-)
Un-done grading - sigh - check.

amazeingteacher said...

And the funny thing is, these "reviewers" in my system never ask to see anything and wouldn't know differentiated instruction if they were staring at it. they only walk through the building and hope to see kids quietly learning in their respective classrooms. I think they are actually looking for a sense of order in schools than anything else.

Sarah said...

Now I must find this show! Great, one more to add to my dvr, lol!

Sandy Mincone said...

You know that any good cartoon comes from some sort of reality...so...

leave those papers ungraded,
the laundry soiled,
the couch well fluffed...

...and enjoy a bit of semi-reality that may somehow make you giggle...I prefer "Principal's Office" on TruTV...oh my...so funny...

'cause really it is all sausages and flowers anyway.

Dom said...

a daycare chain in a nearby university town was NAEYC accredited. they hung a big banner advertising this. i was flummoxed.

a couple weeks later i interviewed one of their staff for a job at my school. i asked her HOW that happened. she said, oh, we changed EVERYTHING for when they came to observe. schedules? changed. curriculum? changed. rules? changed.

so there you go.

Pissed Off said...

My principal brought the quality review to my room without giving me any notice. They saw my room undecorated and me as I usually am. And, surprise, surprise, they loved what they saw. In fact, they said I was the best they saw. They weren't looking for games and performances.

I guess my school lucked out in getting a principal that was not interested in BS--just the real thing.

I love that show.

Mister Teacher said...

What channel is this show on and when does it air? It sounds awesome!!!

17 (really 15) more years said...

This is what administration doesn't get- the quality review doesn't want to see all the crap- they want to see how things are on a daily basis. If they think that the QR doesn't recognize bullshit when they see it, they are sadly mistaken.

We got a pass on the review this year, and they are already falling all over themselves getting ready for next year. I can hardly wait.

teach people not books said...

happy to stumble upon your blog via year of reading. . . how's this: at my middle school, they handed out and made us promise to keep somewhere handy the graduation requirements for high school seniors. we were supposed to know what the requirements were at any given moment if the reviewers asked--and readily produce a hard copy.


ohh. . . and i must say, i'm a us magazine girl myself, so don't beat yourself up ;]

CherylG said...

Really great post!

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