Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Ten Most Annoying People on Staff

In today's world of easy access, one should not have to pay to read previously written articles that were once free to the reader. And anyone who would consider charging a fee for his previously written articles, only after becoming wildly popular, is guilty of Big Leaguing. (But it won't stop me from reading his current work)
But nobody does lists like Bill Simmons, The Sports Guy. So Big League Bill, I am stealing your idea, but giving you credit--just like we teach our students!

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!)

Do YOU know these people? Did I miss anyone? Misplace any of the above. Let me know!


At 7:03 PM , Blogger La Maestra said...

This is so dead-on it makes me almost want to cry and laugh at the same time.

There has to be a definition of some sort for the clueless office assistant... It's almost a cliche where I work. Bonus points if you have a clueless office assistant who always calls everyone honey, regardless of age, gender, or rank.

At 7:15 PM , Blogger Ms. Q said...

So much fun! I am the one in the back tapping my feet, impatiently, or making fun of the videos with my neighbor teacher next to me. I agree with la maestra about the clueless office assistant and would add the clueless administrator--usually not the principal, but one of the VPs that seems to know not that he was supposed to speak at this very moment!

At 9:00 PM , Blogger HappyChyck said...

Beeeeeeaautiful! I hate to admit that I have been a few of those from time to time, but I'm not going to say which...that's when I was young.

I agree with La Maestra...clueless office staff assistant is a must and give her a little power to make teachers' lives miserable to make it real.

At 9:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yikes. I think I AM the Collaborator.

At 9:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The other addition (column b?) would be the lazy custodian who finds the idea of emptying your trash and vacuuming your carpet to be a grievous insult.

At 12:00 PM , Blogger anonymous educator said...

It's clear that the most annoying people in that casino are Simmons and his buddies.

At 12:03 PM , Blogger anonymous educator said...

Your list, though, is hilarious, and you don't feel the need to talk about how great you and your friends are.

At 1:33 PM , Blogger Mr.D AKA the History Dude said...

I have not experienced all of these types yet, but maybe I'll get lucky this year and have a name and face for each!

At 3:19 PM , Blogger graycie said...

A key characteristic of the clueless office staff is that more time is spent carefully explaining why [whatever it is that you need done] will not be done than it would have taken to just do it. This person often has a good heart, but very little ability.

At 3:54 PM , Blogger Carol said...

The long, drawn-out questioners in faculty meetings are the ones that drive me nuts. Great list!

At 8:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite: The Ecstatic at Tripe Extoller

You're attending a seminar expounding the latest iteration of the same ideas revised over and over for centuries by giving them new names and/or acronyms. You know, the "new" idea that will change the face of education in one fell swoop (obviously someone's master's thesis or doctoral dissertation). It is so mind-numbingly moronic that you are using every ounce of energy in your body to keep yourself glued to your chair lest you throttle the presenter/facilitator/expert, etc. spouting this mindless drivel. Surrounding you, however, are "teachers" who are behaving as though they have just received stone tablets from the top of the mountain. They are agog at the wonder and majesty of the insights being handed down like precious jewels. They feverishly scribble these plums of wisdom on their notepads. You want to throttle them even worse than the presenter.

At 5:19 AM , Blogger jg said...

Great List. Unfortunately I've experienced all of them in just one year. I've got another one for the list:

The Gym Teacher Principal
He was once a gym teacher and now he's a principal. He has trouble forming a complete sentence and his speeches to the faculty make you feel like you are getting a pep talk in the locker room before the big game.

At 4:31 PM , Blogger Ms. George said...

I loved your list, recognizing quite a few of those people. I have also seen what I call the "Doomsday Scenario Questioner," who, just like his/her cousins the minute-to-go questioner, the clarifying questioner, and the self-pertaining questioner, clutters up presentations and staff meetings with arcane or impossible scenarios starting with the phrase, "What if..."
Does the fact that I have a purple and black streak in my hair like I did in my goth days qualify me as a 'not fitting inner'? Ouch. I don't care though; I like it and I'm weird.

At 6:17 PM , Blogger Dan Edwards said...

Great List.....can we get badges made to properly label THESE people on our teaching staffs and provide warnings for the unsuspecting and newbys who don't yet know about THESE people ?

At 11:16 AM , Blogger EdWonk said...

We simply had to link this post over at our place!

At 12:22 PM , Blogger Darren said...

Let's not forget The Cynic, which seems to be the author of this piece, several of the commenters, and even me!

I despise staff meetings so bad that I've created Staff Meeting Bingo. Create a list of common eduspeak or terms that principals/VP's use often, and make bingo boards out of them. Make sure you have at least 50 terms--creating the boards takes the longest. It would be nice if someone could point me to some software that would do this. Anyway, at least you now have some motivation for listening intently at the meeting, as you could be the first to get a Bingo!!!

At 1:16 PM , Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Did you mention the eight-legged administrator? This is actually a teacher with his or her head so far up the nether regions of an administrator that the administrator looks like he has two sets of arms and two sets of legs. Beware this creature-- everything you say can and will be held against you....

At 4:02 PM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

The eight legged administrator? I laughed from deep in the belly on that one. But truthfully, because I am social by nature, I've been accused of allegedly creating such an insect!

At 3:03 PM , Blogger Andrew Pass said...

This is great. Until I start to think about the fact that maybe I'm one of those people who always talks when nobody wants to listen to me. It's sort of a scary feeling if you know what I mean. But then again, instead of fearing that I talk too much, maybe I should just laugh it off. Thank God for blogs. They allow me to talk all the time and I don't even have to deal with the smirks. Oh, I guess if you want to ignore what I am saying its even easier to do on a blog.

No, but seriously, thanks for the great post.

Andrew Pass

At 8:51 PM , Blogger ms. whatsit said...

The District Minion is by far the most annoying! I can deal with the rest, but this one seems to inflict the most damage in her wake.

At 8:35 AM , Blogger brendah said...

dana, I think I too am the collaborator. But the list is a good laugh - we have the one with her head up the principal's nether regions and it's scarey to think she's replicated on other faculties. She is the "eyes and ears" of the principal in the staff room. . .

At 4:58 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

hi i read in yur blog that ...
"I had the thrilling opportunity to watch a video clip from Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. "

can u plz send d above mentioned clip to me...i need it urgently...or tell me the source..
it's urgent plz reply at yash.mishracf@gmail.com

At 10:24 PM , Blogger Ms. V. said...


There ya go Darren!

This is so hilarious that I'm linking you too. And I'm sending this round and round, hoping that *someone*, (*cough*) will recognize their description.

The best laugh I've had all day!

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