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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Convocations and Carnivals, oh my!

This week's Carnival of Education is being hosted at my fellow Dallas teacher's blog -- Bell Ringers! Lots of great articles to choose from over there, including the chance to see if you are smarter than an eighth grader, the opportunity to agree or disagree with dress codes in school, and even a second chance to see Darth Vader teaching the Pythagorean theorem!

Today, all teachers in the Dallas ISD (at least all teachers not feigning illness or playing hooky) attended convocation at the American Airlines Center. If you've ever been to a sporting event at a major stadium or arena, then you know it can be a bit difficult to navigate parking, seating, etc. And most sporting events are held on weekends or in the evening, so attendees usually don't have to fight rush-hour traffic to get there!

Not wanting to mess with traffic at all, I met up with some of my fellow teachers at the school, and we made our way to a nearby light rail station to take the train in to downtown Dallas. The trek wasn't too bad, and we didn't have much trouble getting to the AAC.

Two years ago, when we had our convocation at the AAC, the keynote speaker was some guy who called himself "AKA Dr. Attitude." Yes, I do believe that the AKA was officially part of his moniker. He was all right, I guess, but he struck me as being super cheesy. This year, you can imagine my surprise when the superintendent introduced the keynote speaker, and a tiny little kid walked out onto the stage.

This kid, a fifth-grader at a Dallas school, spent the next 15 minutes or so doing his best preacher routine. And I gotta say, it was pretty spectacular. He had obviously practiced hard on his cadence and enunciation, and his major theme was, "Believe in me and my classmates."

To the wild applause and support of all in attendance, this young man entreated us to see the full potential of the kids in our class, regardless of background, attitude, or behavioral issues. He really brought the house down.

Any other Dallas teachers out there, weigh in! What do you think of today's events?


Double K said...

I thought the kid as the keynote speaker did an excellent job. He was passionate and obviously had practiced very hard. My favorite, was the kid youngest of the kids that sang God Bless America. What a powerful voice for such a young man.

Mr. Attitude, or whatever he calls himself, freaks me out. It's the eyes. How does he open them that wide!

Katie said...

So, I am aware I have slightly less team spirit than a turtle, and I tend to respond to large events involving enthusiastic crowds in a turtle-like manner, but, even for me, the convocation two years ago was one of the most awful experiences I could have imagined. I swore that if I ever heard the words "super-fantastic" again, I would punch the person who said it, even if it was an administrator.

You can imagine how excited I was to go to another convocation this year. However, this time I was pleasantly surprised. A good formula for winning anyone over is the innocent sincerity of tiny children, so the kid that sang and the kid that spoke really won me over. I also want to point out that in this cynical age, and I am more cynical than most, these kinds of events that try to manufacture enthusiasm are unsuccessful because it feels so false... having children as the focus was a great idea, because those kids believed in themselves and were totally in to it.

Julie (you know . . . that girl from Kansas City . . . ) said...

We once had an elementary school principal don a red sparkly wig and sing "I'm So Excited" with a live band. She even managed to shimmy (you know that move where you shake your chest and move your arms at the same time) across the stage several times. Clearly school districts must collaborate to find the most annoying, irritating convocation entertainment possible.

Sounds like your speaker this year was much better and truer to the actual vision of teaching! That's both enlightening and promising.

Double K said...

There were times I thought the crowd was going to boo. Especially when the new grading policy was mentioned.

I, too, hate the phrase "super fantastic." Two years ago, immediately after the convocation and everyone had drunk the juice and was saying "super fantastic" about every little thing, I thought my ears were going to start bleeding and my head explode.

Mister Teacher said...

Some of us have taken to using "super fantastic" as a euphemism for things that can only be represented as punctuation symbols in comic strips...

Katie, I liked the little kid aspect too. At first, I said to my neighbor, THIS is our keynote speaker? Are you serious?? But it was very enjoyable, and the other kids sang fantastic (though it's a big pet peeve of mine when people start applauding before the song is done).

Julie, why must so many principals act like Michael Scott from The Office???