In which even complaining is too tiring

To the right: my actual profile picture in my Canvas account, after all of ten minutes of the “professional development” I had to do today.

Y’all, I have done so much complaining about how terrible and boring and flat-out insulting education professional development is over the last 20 years that even I don’t want to listen to myself doing it any longer. E-learning was done as of May 20, and the kids have until this Wednesday to complete any outstanding work, even though it really doesn’t matter because their grades can’t go down from 3rd quarter anyway by state policy— which is super great for the kids who have legitimately been stressing out about their grades during all this, to let them know that none of it mattered at all– but we are still on the hook until June 2nd. We have three days this week where we are supposed to complete “10 to 12 hours” of professional development from a menu of “courses” on Canvas, literally none of which are remotely relevant to middle school or to math teaching. That’s not an exaggeration– screening the offerings for my grade level offers two courses that are not, in fact, relevant to my grade level, and screening for “math” gives me nothing.

It is only hitting me as I’m typing this that we have not been told that we’re using Canvas next year. It is not impossible that they’re only using this to deliver PD, in which case the time I spent today to learn how to use Canvas was wasted.

Actually, who am I kidding– it was a waste anyway, as one of Canvas’ strengths appears to be how intuitive it is, which means that people like me do not need to watch hours of videos explaining how to do things, because we already know how to do them. An example: I am to watch a four-minute video about how to rearrange questions in a quiz.

ME: I bet it’s drag and drop.

VIDEO: Four minutes– four fucking minutes— about how to drag and drop a menu item. Which is not very long in a literal sense, but imagine that you have to watch 70 of these damn things, and even at 1.5x speed they’re still ponderous and unbearable and also you already know how to do everything they’re telling you.

This may be how some people learn, but it is not functional for me, particularly when all the narrator is doing is reading text off a screen. Because when I see words I read them, and I read them faster than any narrator would ever read them, except the narrator is yelling in my ear, so I’m not comprehending what I’m reading very well, and I can’t stop reading and listen to the narrator because I can’t have words in front of me that I’m not reading. I understand, because I have been a teacher for two decades and I have heard this from too many people at too many times for it to not be true, that some people are capable of choosing to not read text that is placed in front of them. I am not able to do that. If I see words, I am reading words.

The entire exercise was estimated to take, no shit, 9-12 hours for the entire course, and I finished it in less than three. (Even if I’d watched every second of the videos at regular speed, it wouldn’t have taken 9-12 hours; I have no idea where that estimate came from or whether anyone meant for it to be taken seriously.) Part of me feels like that means I’m done with my 10-12 hours of PD, since this was supposed to take that long. I dunno; I’ll probably find one more module that doesn’t look too objectionable and do it tomorrow. We’ll see.

6:01 PM, Tuesday May 26: 1,676,401 confirmed cases and 98,787 deaths. I have seen it reported that we’ve officially hit the 100,000 mark in deaths, but I don’t know where that data’s coming from, and I’m not changing my source now. I don’t know if it’s reporting a little slower or being more conservative in what counts a death or what.

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Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.