Thursday, June 09, 2011

AP Conference: Day One

First of all, don’t even bother inquiring about the AP Readings themselves.  There is a serious Fight Club mantra towards any discussion, therefore I’m steering well clear of the whole conversation.

I’m sitting in the mezzanine of the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City, under a Tornado Watch that frankly scares me a bit.  It’s the usual adage that Californians are terrified of tornados and hurricanes, but we can easily deal with the concept of the earth shaking violently.  Oh well.  I’m only staying in a 25 story building that is covered in glass.

There is an interesting mix of teachers here.  I’m actually finding it hard to mix with people for two reasons.  First of all, I’m really not all that outgoing.  I sit down at a table and people watch or read the Twitter feeds.  It’s not that I won’t talk to people that come up and start a conversation.  I’m just not a very good instigator.  I’m a little shy at the start.  The second reason is the mix of teachers.  There are a lot of college teachers here and there seems to be a little disconnect between the attitudes of college staff and high school staff.  It’s not necessarily bad, but young Master’s and PHD college grads looking to go into academia or teachers that are already there have a very strong air of confidence about them.  It’s hard to relate to.  I love Comparative Politics and International Relations (both common majors here), but while the subject matter conversation is very stimulating, there is little I can take to my school.  So I try and gravitate to other high school teachers, even if they are other subjects.  This evening I had a very nice conversation with teachers from Colorado, Idaho, New Jersey, and New Mexico.  It was really nice because we relate much better.

Here are some common themes I can gather (having nothing to do with AP) from educators here:

-The college professor job market sucks just as bad as the high school one.  The International Relations and Comparative Politics market sucks even worse.

-How states are dealing with budget cuts is scary.  We furloughed in California.  But some states are basically cutting teachers and increasing class sizes to around 40, which in my mind is complete insanity. 

-And budgets are the main topic of conversation everywhere.  For some reason people look at California as one of those in the worse shape.  Interesting perception. 

-By the way, I’m constantly told how beautiful it must be where I live.  I do take it for granted.  I live where the Wine Country ends and the Redwoods begin.  How cool is that?

-Online classes seem to the answer to everyone’s educational dilemmas and a lot of teachers are frightened.  Some states are apparently asking to require online classes for some high school Social Studies classes instead of replacing teachers.  Is this true?  Here’s the deal; if you really believe that online classes are the answer to how to better educate our students then you are absolutely not serious about fixing the education issues within our country. 

Well, I’m off to a social and then I need to weight the cost/benefit of staying up to watch the Giants play.  Damn time difference. 

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