Yesterday, I received this email from our department chair:
Hey would you be willing to facilitate [the department meeting] today. I want to have others lead the group discussion as well as have the department get to know the new staff members better ….[the principal] set the agenda and I will have it up on the smart board for you….
Let me know
This had not been on my Plans For Thursday radar. Let’s see…Lead a meeting that I didn’t set an agenda for in a group of people who I barely know because I’ve only been on staff here for like two months and who can’t stay on track for three minutes at a time when it’s someone else’s paid position to lead these meetings…? But I said this:
Yikes! I didn’t know I was going to be put on the spot today! Sure, I’ll do it.
Because, you know, why not? I can be a team player when I feel like it. So she sends back:
Not on the spot….I just want everyone to get to know you!!!
Hmmm. Well, OK. If getting to know me is what you want, then I’m running this meeting MY way.
At our first department meeting, we agreed that we would start on time and leave on time. Well, that hasn’t happened all school year. Here’s one thing about me, since that’s the theme of the meeting: I effing hate wasting time. I believe that there’s a time for fun and goofing off and sharing feelings and telling stories, but not while it’s time to work.
We agreed our meetings would run from 3:05 to 3:50. I was in the room at 3:03 (two minutes after the final bell rang) asking to see the agenda, which was simply two questions that we had to brainstorm answers for: 1) Why do our students fail? and 2) What can we do to change that?
At 3:05, it was still only me and the department chair in the room, but I started asking her for ideas to get the list going. At 3:06 two more people showed up and jumped in. At 3:12 a teacher came in with a list (because we’d gotten these questions from the principal ahead of time) and I told him to look at our list and please only share out ideas that didn’t duplicate the ideas we had come up with seven minutes prior. At 3:14 another teacher came in and wanted to know what we were working on, so I directed that teacher to read the screen and then ask questions because we had started working nine minutes ago and shouldn’t go back to review because people couldn’t get to the meeting on time.
Can you see where this is going? That’s right, we got shit done. Because, here’s something else about me, I get shit done.
At 3: 25 I realized that one of our vice principals was sitting in the back. You know how I finally noticed? Because she suggested something and I said, “We already have that. What else?” and highlighted on the screen (because I was also taking notes electronically during the meeting) then she apologized and people looked back at her. I had a moment of regret right because I started thinking to myself “Maybe I should be nicer. Maybe I shouldn’t call people out for being so late. Maybe it’s OK to allow a few side conversations. Maybe I shouldn’t get so annoyed that the department chair is passing around a bag of candy in the back of the room. Maybe I don’t have to…” And then I stopped because you know what? I hate it when I go to a meeting and half of it is taken up with people talking and talking and talking about their own personal stuff forever and a loosey-goosey agenda and side comments that derail everyone else’s focus and then leaving that meeting realizing that I just wasted 45 minutes of my life. That’s my life! And I totally wish I was one of those people who has no problem checking out of the meeting and playing 1010 on their phone, but I don’t want to be rude, so instead I look like I’m taking notes but I’m really planning out my grocery list for the weekend or something. So yeah, I stopped worrying about being nice and kept running the meeting. My way. Because that’s what she wanted, right? For everyone to get to know me? Well, this is me. Being efficient.
We were done by 3:40, so we set the agenda for the next meeting and at exactly 3:50 I told people to go home. I mean, I was nicer than that, but that was the essence. You know, “Good meeting everyone. See you tomorrow.”
When we walked out, the VP caught up to me and said, “That. Was. Awesome. I’ve been to so many of those meetings and it’s like herding cats every single time. The English department is not well known for being very efficient here.”
Then this morning, my teacher friend who has her first period in the English hall (I’m not up there until later) sends me this email:
FYI- the word on the street is that everyone is all a titter about what an awesome job you did yesterday (admins especially)!
Be careful- much will be expected of those that are competent.
Can I be your sidekick?
And, of course, I said this back:
Only if you wear spandex and a cape.
But what I really wanted to say is “Shit, you’re right. Why can I never just aim for mediocrity like everyone else?”
I blame my father. It is absolutely 100% his fault I get myself into messes like these.