Education Opinion

Bright and Shiny Choices

By Susan Graham — August 22, 2010 2 min read
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I can see myself in my classroom floors. I am careful as I move the tables and unstack the chairs. I don’t want to mark the floor.

I leave my room and head for the office. The hallway glistens wide and long and empty and the only sound is my rubber soled shoes as they squeakily--stick and release, stick and release- with each step.

I stop by the girl’s restroom.--no point in going all the way to the teachers. I have this one to myself. It’s immaculately clean and smells of bleach and “mountain spring” scented cleanser rather than teen spirit.

I arrive at the workroom. When I enter, I trigger the motion detector and the room is flooded with light. I use the copier. It’s not jammed; it’s full of paper;and there’s no line. I check my mail cubby and find a coupon for a book store, a flyer for graduate courses, and an invitation to come to a conference. There are no parent phone call messages to return or central office forms to be filled out. The door clicks shut behind me and for five minutes, the lights will wait for my next move and then, realizing I’m gone, turn themselves off.

I rap on my principal’s door, but I don’t wait to be invited in. He motions for me to have a seat as he finishes up an email. He’s got time to ask what I learned at a recent conference, and solicit input on school improvement, and give me information about a new teacher so I can set him up with a mentor.

Middle school in August is pristine and peaceful. It’s a fresh new page for me to enscribe with my plans, preparations, and reflections. It’s all about my practice as a educator. What mark will I leave on my students and school this year?

In another few days it will be different. The creamy white floors will be dirty and scuffed within hours. The hall will reverberate with banging locker doors, loud laughing, and overwrought conversations. The girls restroom will reek from injudicious applications of perfume and hairspray. There will be a line for the teachers’ restroom. (I guess I don’t need to go all that bad.) In the workroom, the teachers who were not waiting for the restroom will be in line for the copier. If they are experienced, they will have hit their mail cubby first so that they can thumb through the pile of schedule changes, new students, and required documentations while waiting in the copier or toilet line. My principal will be on the bus ramp, in the cafeteria, meeting with parents, or called to yet another meeting at Central Office.

School in September is turbulent and teaming with life. It’s dayglow graffiti scrawl of the secret fears, encrypted dreams, and untapped potentials of 900 “tweens”. It’s all about the great expectations and bright hopes of middle schoolers. What mark will these students leave on our school and on me this year?

August is pristine and pensive. September is wild and wonderfilled. So which school do I love best? Shiny and serene or bright and buzzing? It’s a toss up. They’re both winners.

Images: Photobucket
The Empty Hall by bleedingheartx
Busy School Hallway by LuxoJr

The opinions expressed in A Place at the Table are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.