I’ve been a member of several community and professional committees in my time. I’ve lost count of the number of staff meetings and department meetings and special committee meetings I’ve had to attend. I rarely felt as if anything new or productive was accomplished at those meetings. It was always “Same old, same old.” It became interesting to watch my colleagues at these meetings find their own creative ways to deal with their ennui. Some would make grocery lists or other lists. Some would doodle. Some, like me, would create their own word games. For many teachers, staff meetings became a time to get marking done.
I will never forget my least favourite meeting experience. The Ministry of Education had decreed that every school had to have a mission statement. It was expected to be unique to that school and reflect the students, and needs and culture of the area. We already had a very good one which the staff had developed, succinct and to the point and reflective of our students and our particular educational culture. Yet here we were at a command staff meeting with the sole intention of creating a ‘mission statement’. Leading us was a principal recently retired from our system who was marketing himself to every board in the province as an ‘expert’ on how to write a mission statement while he got paid for ‘assisting’ us.
I got angry. Why were we re-creating something which we had already created on our own and which reflected what we believed we were about? What was the point of the exercise we were being forced to endure? And I couldn’t leave and I couldn’t say what I truly believed. Now when that happens for me, the pressure I feel inside has to vent somehow. For me, that has meant that I grumble at best and sputter and tear up at worst. Well, my principal saw that I was not happy [imagine, he was actually able to calibrate for that!]. He asked me if anything was wrong and I knew that I couldn’t say what I believed. Politically incorrect to do that! So I sat there until it was time to go.
I wish that I had had some form of ‘Bullshit Bingo’ with me. At least then, I would have had a reason to listen and look attentive. And I would have had fun.
The ‘Teacher’s Bullshit Bingo’ which follows was created after that fateful meeting which was a total waste of my time and definitely un-fun. I developed it from something which one of the members of the English department had been given by a friend who was in management in the corporate world. My colleague shared his enjoyment of the exercise. I took it a step further and adapted it to fit the educational world.
I’ve included it here, not only because it was fun to create but also to remind everyone who reads this that work can be fun, play is good, and there are always ways to do what you are expected to do in your workplace in a way which suits you. Who says that work has to be drudgery? Where is it written that work is always serious?
My truth is that I am curious and playful and inquisitive and that I enjoy being an iconoclast. My Bullshit Bingo totally reflects that.
Feel free to adapt this if you are so moved to do.
My apologies that the table grid did not translate to WordPress as I copied it.
Do you keep falling asleep in meetings and seminars? What about those long and boring conference calls? Here is a way to change all that!
How to Play: Check off each block when you hear these words during a meeting, seminar, or phone call. When you get five (5) blocks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, stand up and shout “Bullshit!!!”
TEACHER’S BULLSHIT BINGO
Flexibility, Adaptive Learning, Core Curriculum Competencies, Best Practice, Bottom Line
Revisit, Standards, 24/7, Out of the Loop, Benchmark
Accountability, Proactive, Win-Win, Think Outside the Box, Fast Track
Result-Driven, Empower/Empowerment, Knowledge Base, Innovation, Touch Base
Mindset, Student-Centered Learning, Transparency, Game Plan, Differentiated Instruction
While you may really want to yell “Bullshit” at the top of your lungs, you may decide with your co-workers to come up with some other word or phrase – perhaps something which sounds really erudite, or from a language you are pretty sure the speakers don’t know. That way, you will know what you mean and everyone of your fellow players will be in on what is happening, and you will not feel in any way worried that you might be taken to task for saying what you really mean.
Testimonials from satisfied players:
“My attention span at meetings has improved dramatically.” – David D., Florida
“What a gas! Meetings will never be the same for me after my first win.” – Bill R., New York
“The atmosphere was tense in the last process meeting as 14 of us waited for the 5th box.” – Ben G., Denver
“The speaker was stunned as eight of us screamed ‘Bullshit!!!’ for the third time in 2 hours.” – Kathleen L., Atlanta