Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Repost: The Ten Most Annoying Members on Staff

Three years ago I posted "The Ten Most Annoying Members on Staff." As we approach professional development days and staff meetings, here is a reminder.

10. The Clarifying Questioner:You've all heard it. The principal has just finished a ten minute power point detailing the new attendance policy when this guy raises his hand to clarify a point that was made five times during the presentation. You want to slap him upside the head and tell him to pay attention--or just call him a freshman.
9. The Stuck in the Past: When Principal Jones was here, things were a lot better. Seriously, dude, I was five when Principal Jones was here; of course things were different. Better? Only because you are so old your short term memory has failed. You keep getting little glimpses into your past like flashbacks in movie. The dreamy nostalgia has got you high on 1982.
8. The 1-Minute until we Leave Questioner: There is nothing more thrilling than when the clock reads 2:59 at a staff meeting that ends at 3:00. Seriously, if you enjoy staff meetings, get yourself checked. You can't be normal. We've just spent 7 hours trying to convince kids to listen to us, had a student tell us where to put the homework assignment, and nearly headed home until the "Staff, don't forget the meeting at 2:15" announcement blares us back to hell. Then, that one lady in the corner, as if she's been planning this moment all day because she needs to feel important today, raises her hand with a question about some policy. The ensuing answer needs five minutes to explain. Meanwhile, you've started tapping your foot at an unhealthy pace and everyone in the room can feel the frigid stare you are giving. Let it go, lady; let it go.
7. The Collaborator: The Collaborator has many ideas--none of which she can do on her own. No. She needs your help. She's knocking on your door during her prep period, or e-mailing the staff about a new idea. Where does she come up with all of these ideas? She goes to a lot of conferences, and she lets you know about every one. I learned this. I learned that. We need to do this. We need to do that. How come no one wants to be on board? Oh, I don't know; maybe it is because you change ideas quicker than a my 9th graders change i-pod skins.
6. The Not Fitting In: Oooh. This one hurts. Nobody likes that awkward feeling one gets when a person tries just a little too hard to fit in. One part of you wants to laugh and point like when you were in high school, the other half wants to feel bad, but can't. I mean, he's 35 years old and still trying to fit in. There are two types of Not Fitting Inners. The first is just socially awkward with his peers. He joins conversations that he wasn't a part of, and knows nothing about--nodding his head in agreement or disgust whenever it seems appropriate. He's like Steve Urkel--somethings not right, but you just can't cut him off. The second type is the teacher who needs to feel cool with her students. She tries to dress like them, or do her hair like them. Neither work. You are just waiting for the day that some kid mistakes her for an actual student and trips her in the hall, books sprawling, people pointing.
5. The Shusher: The title says it all. He wants to listen to another pointless movie clip about succeeding schools--even if it was made in 1993. You want to make fun of the actors, or real teachers who are just so awkward because they know their going to be in the movie. He keeps "shushing" you like that kid in junior high that nobody liked. You want to start throwing little pieces of paper at him just to see if he cries. There is no place in the world for the shusher except for when Dr. Evil shushes Scotty in Austin Powers. Shhh. I' m sorry, no arguing. Shhhh. I don't want to hear it. Shh.
4. The Union Thug: As soon as the clock hits 2:30, he's gone. You won't seem him until 7:00 a.m. If the principal has a new idea that might solve some problems, it has to be a violation of the contract. Nothing this person does is an action of his own. He is a follower at all cost. He is the reason why the outside world rags on teachers anytime we complain about pay. The building rep is on his speed dial, and there is no convincing him to budge an millimeter--it is the difference between being respected and taken advantage of.
3. The Complainer: "My fourth period class is the worst," she says. You begin to respond with empathy because your sixth period class is hell, but she interrupts, "I don't know. MY class...." And on it goes. All year, every time you get together. Hey, we all complain. But there is a right way and wrong way to do it. When you complain, you must understand that the person to whom you are complaining to, has a story too. You have to be funny when you complain, otherwise it is the same whining that our students do--and we make fun of in the faculty lounge. You are limited in time. You are not allowed to complain for more than 10 minutes a week. You may choose to complain once a week for 10 minutes--remember to be funny--or you may choose to go with some shorter session (venting). If you can't be funny and concise, shut the hell up.
2a. The E-Mail Respond Aller: Because these next two are just so damn annoying, I have to call them equal. When the school secretary e-mails with an all staff bulletin about the fire alarms being tested and there may be an inadvertant bell, please, for the sake of Bill Gates and all the other techno-nerds, don't reply "The last one interrupted my lab and now my day is shot," to the entire staff by simply hitting the "reply" button. You see, it goes out to everyone unless you hit "reply sender." The truth is, we don't care. WE all had our class interrupted, not just you. This is the epitomy of selfish narcissism--to think that your experience is so unique that you must share it with all.
2b. The Self-Pertaining Questioner: The Vice Principal finishes addressing a new reporting system for grades. A hand in the front goes up. You cringe because you know what's coming: A Clarifying Questioner, A 1-Minute Till We Go Questioner, or the Self-Pertaining Questioner. The latter asks a question that is specific to his classroom, oblivious to the notion that no one else in the building would have the same question. As if this person hasn't heard themself talk enough that day, here's one more opportunity for them to show the VP that they are important. Look at me, daddy, look. I'm right here. No, daddy, right here. Come on, notice me. Please. Just e-mail your question later--no, on better thought, don't--you're probably also guilty of 2A.
1. The District Minion: So in love with the Central Office that she quotes it like the Rev. Billy Graham preaching from John 3:16 at the Astrodome. Like the Union Thug, she never thinks for herself, never questions for the purpose of improving. No, she just follows along with every educational fad presented at some meeting. She speaks a foreign language with words like: research based, formative, constructivist, scaffolding, and a bunch of other words. Meanwhile, while she's off at any and every district offered training, you are actually teaching. And if you should question the latest fad, you can be sure she's talking. Yep. She's like the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz, waiting to scoop you up and drop you off at the Wicked Witch's office. (I better be politically correct and include the Wicked Warlock's office--otherwise I might get in trouble!)

1a. The Retirement Countdowner: Since leaving my previous school, I have encountered far too many people who know the date of their retirement. They've lost interest in teaching as a profession and are more concerned about when they can start collecting their 70%--which they complain about as being too little. Listen, just flipping retire. We'll miss you; we'll throw you a little party. But for the sake of the students, just move on.
Do YOU know these people? Did I miss anyone? Misplace any of the above. Let me know!


At 7:30 PM , Blogger Joan said...

You obviously work at my school and attended today's staff meeting.

At 12:01 AM , Blogger Mr. D said...

Re: "The Retirement Countdowner":

At least you don't have what we call "retire-rehires". They HAVE retired, and then return to the district to get their retirement salary plus a teaching salary! And they can do anything they want, because they can afford to lose the teaching position (which would never happen anyway... they'd just be moved into a cushy non-teaching position for MORE money)!

At 2:11 AM , Blogger Joep said...

I would like to refine the "Stuck-in-the-past" or add a new one: "The Archive Worm".
He stands up just after the meeting has reached a decision, waves a paper and announces that these are the notes of a meeting on December, 8, 1982 in which the same issue was at stake, and at that time outcome was opposite, quoting vote numbers and the precise text of the decision
The most irritating effect of this act is that every one is aware that he must have been searching in his archive beforehand and just has been waiting until now to make his point, thereby belittling all efforts of colleagues contributing to the discussion.
The rationale behind this behaviour is that he shows off that he has seen it all, that all efforts come to no avail, nothing ever changes and so on, thereby attributing to himself the ultimate wisdom of Ecclesiastes: "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? "

At 4:33 AM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

Very nice Joep.

At 1:27 PM , Anonymous Little Bear said...

Don't forget the "crossword puzzle addict". At past faculty meetings, there was a core group of 4 to 5 teachers who would sit together in the back. They would do crossword puzzles during the entire faculty meeting. It was very annoying. But they're all retired now, so that doesn't happen anymore.

At 6:09 PM , Blogger Braemar said...

Looks like you've got a dozen of the top ten. perhaps our cup overfloweth with annoying staff members.
An enlarged title may be required.

At 9:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my've been to the staff meetings in my building too! Now to figure out where I belong in the whole scheme of things. :)

At 10:02 AM , Anonymous Jen said...

I can't help but feel like this post reflects a little of the bullying that goes on in schools by kids. I have attended meetings where people, especially new teachers, feel unwelcome by the "cool crowd" who is frequently making comments like these about other teachers at meetings. It's almost as if you don't join in, you're not welcome. I can say, Mr. McNamar, that I'm disappointed every time I read this post (for the second time now). I thought you had more professionalism than this.


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