This past Monday morning, an email from the American Association of University Women showed up in my inbox, inviting me to play State of the Union Bingo with the rest of the nation’s AAUW members.
The objective, other than to have some fun and possibly win a few prizes, was to see if Obama’s speech would help women and girls in the upcoming year.
I immediately flashed back to my years in teaching and so many staff meetings with no objective other than to cover items that could have been better communicated in a short memo.
There were those of us who carried in stacks of essays to correct during the mandatory Monday afternoon Staff Meetings — typically the English Department, but that did not help any of us stay awake during the terminally long meetings. It usually seemed that the presenters just wanted to take the longest amount of time to share the smallest amount of information.
Most of us concluded that many of the presenters just enjoyed hearing themselves speak.
Then, someone (ok, it was Sister Peggy) brought in a nifty little game for the faculty: Buzzword Bingo.
The squares were filled with the latest buzzwords — a relatively easy task in education as the profession tends to thrive on Flavor-of-the-Day Buzzwords. Cards were generated and printed and we quietly distributed the Buzzword Bingo handouts among our hundred or so colleagues.
We had great fun. The game kept us all awake and at least looking like we were paying attention. The best record ever was somewhat under four minutes and that was for covering an entire card. I’m not sure that record actually counted because it was during a presentation by an administrator with a reputation for speaking solely in buzzwords without actually knowing what any of them meant.
The game became very popular and made Monday Staff Meetings almost tolerable. The administrators had no idea what we were doing, other than assuming that they were charming the faculty with their endless droning and that we were all dutifully taking notes.
Then, second semester arrived and with it, a new crop of young and enthusiastic student teachers. As required, they all trooped into their first Monday Staff Meeting. One sweet young teacher, having been handed a Buzzword Bingo card without any of the cautionary ground rules, started playing the game in earnest.
When she had covered the requisite squares, the young teacher jumped up out of her chair, waving the Buzzword Bingo card high in the air and shouting BINGO!! at the top of her lungs.
Alas, it happened smack in the middle of the principal’s presentation.
And with that, like so many other good ideas in education, Buzzword Bingo came to an abrupt and untimely demise.