Coming Out of Left Field

Friday, March 07, 2008

An education newbie

The other day I got to go to a professional training day hosted by my wife's school. A couple of months ago I started working one afternoon a week, so I had credentials of a sort. Still, though, I felt a bit of a fraud among all these teachers with so much more experience and education. So I fully intended to lay low.

All I can say is, someone Upstairs has a sense of humor.

My wife's director kicks off the training with some announcements about scheduling, presenters, and other routine stuff. The last one, though, is different. "Now you know, at these things we always give out prizes. This wand," she says, waving one she was holding, "will make you an empress for the day, and confers the right to cut in line at the bathroom!"

With that, she asks everyone to stand up. "OK, if you've been in the field for five years or less, please sit down." As people retake their seats, she keeps upping the number until three people are left. The winner is a woman who's been teaching for forty years, and the director steps down from the stage to give her the prize.

"I want to give this to someone who's a new teacher," the woman says, as the director approached.

"Don't worry," the director replies, as she hands over the wand. "We're taking care of that next."

Taking care of that next, I thought. Wait, that means ... uh-oh.

"Would everyone who's been teaching for four years or less, please stand up."

About ten or fifteen people, including me, stand up.

"Three years or less ... two years or less ... new this year ..."

Three or four people are still standing.

"Six months or less ..."

Now it's down to me and one other woman. Maybe she just got hired six weeks ago ...

"Two months or less."

The other woman sits.

Oh, my God.

I crack up. The other teachers crack up. The director, as she hands me my wand, is trying not to crack up. And my wife, who was out of the room at the time, cracks up when she hears the story and sees my wand, a pale green sparkly wand with Tinkerbell's face on it that I have to carry around for the rest of the day.

I'd like to say that the wand now occupies a place of honor on the mantel. As it turns out, though, the daughter of whoever bought the wands thinks that they belong to her, so I will send mine back to school with my wife. Just as well -- pale green isn't really my color.