Friday, October 2, 2009

Do Not Smile or Scowl Until Christmas- Part 2

Someone brought to my attention recently that the way I'm conducting myself in the classroom is also the way I'm conducting myself in meetings with colleagues. This must be part of finding the balance between the first and second years.

I've come into this year with a No Smile-No Frown policy in the classroom. While the desired effect in the classroom has been pretty well achieved (the students are aware of who is running the show and I actually feel like I'm in charge), the residual effect in cooperative team meetings has been that I've been kind of a d-bag. We tell our students that they need to code-switch between home and the classroom- meaning shut the profanity off, among other things- but I haven't been switching between the classroom and other professional work.

Something I added to my arsenal this year, which was in the testing stages last spring, is a slightly deeper public speaking voice than whatever it was I used before. Last spring I consciously lowered my voice slightly and did my best not to raise the pitch when surprised, angry, etc., which worked most of the time, but I'm sure a couple of students wondered at times if I was hitting a second bout of puberty. Part of the current No Smile-No Scowl policy has been to include this deeper voice when addressing my students in the classroom. It certainly seems to help, but an insider tip from a colleague was that when I attend meetings and set out an agenda (very "I'm the man with the plan"), the deep voice is condescending and abrasive. As it turns out, my colleagues, while young, are no longer in middle school and should not be treated as such.

Last year I felt so thoroughly trounced that I rarely gave any long-winded epitaphs or really any feedback at teacher meetings. I was too tired and felt I really didn't know what I was doing and therefore didn't have much to contribute to the veteran teachers at such meetings. This year I marched in with my head high trying to show students that I knew exactly what I was doing so that they'd come along with me, but the reality is I certainly do NOT know everything and shouldn't address colleagues like I do. I also don't need to prove to my colleagues that I have healthy testosterone levels by flaunting my lower register.

Today's Wine: Sipavola Rosso Di Sicilia 2006. It was a NeroD'Avola/Cabernet Sauvignon blend, according to the menu. I had it at Cavatappo off 89th and 1st on the Upper East Side (down the block from my house). The wine was a smooth drink that went well with the spinach papperdelle pasta with duck ragu. The whole thing sounds fancy and tastes fancier (in my opinion).

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