PAPER PLANE

Christina Adams

Turning up to professional development day at your own school always brings a range of emotions. Sure, the fact that you have managed to dodge that class of Year 8s that have been doing your head in since the start of the year is a positive. But the fact that role-play might be an active component of the day always weighs heavily on my mind.

Recently, we had a full day at school without the students. We were given limited details about what to expect on the day except that both morning tea and lunch were to be provided. It’s good to focus on these types of details when selling such days to teachers.

Turning up, I felt almost in holiday mode. Wearing jeans and a hoodie to work will do that to you. I approached the sign-in desk and followed directions to "pick a chocolate of my choice" and proceed to a table. Things were looking promising — as long as role-play remained a distant (but disturbing) memory from the last professional development day. I entered the room. Everyone was seated in small groups and appeared to be smirking.

“What chocolate did you pick?”

“What?”

“What chocolate did you pick?”

“Um, Marvellous Creations Popping Candy Beanies.”

“You’re here with us!”

“What?”

“Everyone who picks the same chocolate is in the same group.”

Oh God. Really? I scanned my table — Liza from PE, Matt from Maths and Sara from IT. Once I joined them, there would only be room for one more. I slammed my books down, grabbed for my phone and sent an urgent text to my workplace bestie, Bridie.

“Pick the Popping Chocolate!”

No response. The room was filling. I was glad I had escaped the Cherry Ripe table — that looked tense and awkward. I sent Bridie another text.

“POPPING CHOCOLATE!!!!!!”

Every arrival was given the same treatment.

“What chocolate did you pick?”

The chorus was reaching the type of ridiculous sing-song and high volume that tends to happen when you lump a group of teachers together without kids for the day. Still no sign of Bridie. Finally, with only two spots remaining in the entire room, Bridie appeared.

“Did you get my text?”

“What?”

“My text?”

“I didn’t get a text!”

Then the chorus took over.

“What chocolate did you pick?”

“The Popping one.”

Phew — particularly as Garry had just entered the room and things haven’t really been the same between us since we had a disagreement over the use of the computer trolley last term. Luckily, he prefers Crunchies and was off to the Crunchie table. Bridie settled in next to me and we both unwrapped our chocolates. I lined up my coffee mug, my pens and opened the plan for the day, feeling content and relaxed.

“Oh no!”

“What?”

“Did you see what we are doing after morning tea?”

“What?”

“Dealing with conflict through role play.”

Pop.

Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and a stand-up comedian