Thursday, November 5, 2009

Training Day

Attended a training on teaching kids with autism today (it was actually the third such training so far this year) and, like most trainings, they managed to spread an hour's worth of material over the entire eight-hour day. Educators are very good at doing this. And they don't even try to hide it.

For example, the first thing we did was introduce ourselves, a totally worthless exercise for the following reasons:

1. You know you're never going to remember everyone's name.
2. So you don't really listen, thereby guaranteeing number one.
3. The other reason you don't listen is because you're mostly thinking about how you're going to introduce yourself, which is ironic because no one is going to be listening to you either.

Then the presenters told us when our breaks and lunch would be, which is basically admitting that those things are going to be the highlights of everyone's day.

And they always have chocolate. The chocolate is bribery. It's a way of saying, "I know this is going to be really boring, but please don't fall asleep or walk out or give us a bad review on the feedback form because, hey, we did bring chocolate."

And women--it's always women--will make chocolate jokes. I've never been at a training where some woman did not make a chocolate joke. What is a chocolate joke? Well, first of all, it's not funny. It's especially not funny when you've heard it sixty times. Here's how it usually goes:

Presenter: The first thing you're going to want to do when you start the year is establish some norms for your team. Many teams agree that they're are going to meet weekly and that everyone will be on time and prepared. You might discuss how work will be delegated. Take a moment and brainstorm some norms for your teams.

Woman: I've got one. There will be chocolate at all meetings.

Told you. Not funny.

Here's something else that bothered me. Today's presenters used PowerPoint. Shocking, I know. And by "use," I mean they had a fifty page slide show that they read to us. I've never understood this. If you're going to take the time to type everything, why do you need to read it to me? I can read.

And of course the sound on the videos was barely above whisper volume and they didn't know how to fix it and I had to sit there suppressing the male urge to walk up there and tinker with the settings.

And, like always, we had to write things on chart paper and there was the whole, "My handwriting stinks" and "I'll write, but I don't want to share" nonsense, and that's stupid too, that someone even has to share. What's the point of writing something on huge chart paper and hanging the paper on the wall if you're just going to stand up and tell everyone what you wrote?

Actually, I know the answer to that. It's to waste time. Because eight hours lasts forever when you're not actually doing anything, and after a while it doesn't matter how much chocolate they have, because not only couldn't they work the sound but the lighting sucked, they ran out of brownies at lunch, and there were seven typos in their stupid PowerPoint presentation.

I'd tell you to avoid these presenters, but I have no idea what their names are.


Unknown said...

Oh, this sounds all too familiar.

I went to a conference on the Four Square Writing Technique. A simple yet effective technique. There were 350 women there and 6 guys, no joke. It go so bad that women--nothing against women, just women who act like there are only other overweight, out-of-date women in the crowd--were singing songs in disdain of the governator. Now, he is a douche, by all means, but really? At a conference? And the lady in charge, the creator of Four Square, Judi Gould, joined right in. Embarrassing. And unprofessional. And they wonder why teachers don't make more money. Because most of them are douches.

Matty said...

Ya know that scene from Office Space where Peter asks his buddy who does construction if anyone ever asked him if he "had a case of the Mondays" (getting a negative reply)?

That's kind of what I miss about my 15 years of manual labor. You never deal with that stuff with fencers, painters, landscapers and warehousemen (unless you count their affinity for beer but that just doesn't usually seem so stupid).

Out here you really don't have to deal with it since none of your co-workers speak English anyway. I guess that brings in a whole new level of annoyance but at least you can retreat to your thoughts as you shovel the day away.

Anita said...

Ah, are you saying you don't like chocolate jokes/stories?

What do you call a cow who can't moo?

A Milk Dud.

I actually use M&Ms like nitroglycerin tablets...I stick them right under the tongue when I'm stressed. Mom-in-law is visiting at present, so I can't even talk, the underside of my tongue is so overtaken with chocolate.


Kelly Polark said...

Anita always makes me laugh!

I'm going to get a piece of chocolate now. Because my house rule is that chocolate is mandatory every day.
LOL? Not even a snicker?
Speaking of Snickers...

Anonymous said...

I haven't been to a conference in a couple of years, as you know, but you just perfectly described every one I ever did attend.

Seriously, can't someone come up with a better format than discussing norms, writing on big post-its, and eating?

The funny part is that they, with this mundane format, want to inspire people to do better.

Pot, meet kettle.


Ray Veen said...

I was thinking the Powerpoint thing at my staff meeting last Thursday. The presenters always bring a laptop for a Powerpoint presentation, but they can never get it to work with the projector.

Week after week I hear something along the lines of, "Well we seem to be having some technical difficulties so if the twenty of you wouldn't mind crowding around my eight-inch laptop monitor."

I especially love it when they read the Presentation off the slides, and then hand out a thick packet of the exact information. Because we're so stupid so that it won't sink in unless we see two identical versions of your information while you're reading it.

Myra McEntire said...

I am glad you suppressed your male urge.

Especially in mixed company.

Unknown said...

Wanna know the worst thing? I ate the chocolates. Lots of them.