Our classrooms are almost entirely dismantled during the summer break.
I just stopped in to the school to pick up a few items I needed for planning. I tried to anticipate the documents and resources I would need, but inexplicably forgot my tentative class list for September. History shows the names will not change much, so it is fairly reliable. One of my tasks is to create usernames and accounts on various sites we use in our learning. The list missed getting stuffed into the black bag I lugged home June 27th. As I wandered the disrupted hallways I reflected a bit on being a teacher. We are often compared to other professions (and jobs), particularly when we negotiate contracts. Sometimes the comparisons seem to fit, often our protests to the contrary are met with incomprehension or derision. It is hard to quantify our working conditions, all the more because we are an idiosyncratic bunch.
Comparisons between teachers are tricky. This makes glib suggestions like merit pay problematic. We all work in different ways. Throughout the year, I notice colleagues arriving and departing earlier and later than myself. As I come in to the school or leave, someone is usually coaching a practice in the gym. Occasionally it is me in the gym or library. Habitually, three of my grade team members are settling into long preparation and marking sessions as I leave for the day. Some teachers carry crippling loads of exercise books home to mark in the evenings, while I walk out with my iPad. We all have our own work flow.
It would have surprised me to bump into a colleague this morning. At this point, like-minded colleagues are slipping in and out to grab something at odd moments. I have colleagues, perhaps the ones carting marking home on the weekends, who think me insane to putter at my desk organizing the next year six weeks before school begins. I will be back for a few days to reconstruct my classroom – likely as soon as I discover they have finished cleaning it. Others will show up the morning they are required to return. I have no way of quantifying our preparation for the new year. Each, in our own way, will have done the job. This must drive bean counters up the wall.
I have no idea how long I am going to work on preparing fifth grade curriculum this summer. I could keep a record, but what would be the point? I probably plan, organize, network, research, and create just for my own peace of mind. The time preparing sets my mind at ease so that when my family is free, or my mind turns to other activities, I am ready. Alles ist in Ordnung, my German heritage whispers. I’ve got to tell you, the state of my classroom right now is driving me crazy. I wonder if they need help waxing?