As the moon peaks through a veil of clouds I sit in pain while I self medicate with a Boulevard Wheat after a long day. This annual rite of August is well known to teachers, their family and friends. The day after teachers can get into their room at school all help available is summoned to move, help, clean, re-arrange. The most amazing part is to watch the teachers dream of how their room can best suite the needs of their students for the coming year, how they can move quickly from one lesson to the other to cram in as much knowledge as possible in nine months of school. I have been through this rite most of my life. You see, I come from a family awash in teachers. You might say each one is a pragmatic dreamer, wanting to change the world with each and every student all the while realizing that every year there is ‘that one student’.
For the un-experienced walking into a summer classroom can be quite shocking. Now, it is much better if the teacher is keeping the same room, but any number of things could have happened over the summer. Summer school teachers may have used the room and while I am sure they try not to re-arrange or leave messes, invariably things are moved. Teachers are somewhat like Sherlock Holmes when it comes to things being moved in their classroom. I remember my teachers who would be able to tell you had been out of your desk or messing with her desk even before any video surveillance devices were available. So, the investigation begins…thankfully during this rite of August the investigation quickly reaches a finding of ‘no-fault’ due to a lack of suspects. Once the investigation ends the direction begins and the work of preparing the classroom for the first day of school commences in earnest.
Computers all amuck, wires EVERYWHERE, enough power-strips to power a small city and books, desks and chairs galore. Day one has been spent with the teachers meeting neighbors, trying to get the janitor to clean up each rooms own little disasters and to help set things right that were toppled, moved or dirtied over the two months they were away. Day two is when the familial help is called and you will see everyone possible there to help. Hopefully the teacher has a vision for the room and making ANY recommendations to a teacher with a plan is a dangerous game to play. It is best to take direction and when an opinion is requested be incredibly still and silent and don’t look them directly in the eyes. Any thought that a teacher who is asking for an opinion on their room actually wants one is 99% faulty…you will hit a good idea 1 time out of 100…pretty bad odds indeed. Once the teacher has forgotten they asked your opinion due to your stealthy behavior, they will ask you to help them try a few things, which you should follow dutifully. This action will be continued until the entire classroom is set up exactly how the teacher wants the room…for the moment.
Caution! When you visit the classroom again in a few weeks, EVERYTHING may have changed, don’t worry about that and don’t comment on ANYTHING! If you do, the line, “well I was thinking about changing it back”…will trap you for hours and you should refer back to the beginning of the article for guidance on the repeat performance. The benefit to the repeat is that you once again get to sit on the patio…and self medicate.