Meet my once and future classroom.
It once had a exposed wooden door, working lights, nine unmarked boxes, beige lockers, and a second year teacher scared for his career. I know this because I was him eight years ago. Throughout the year, the desks rumbled and shuffled about the class, sometimes in groups, in pairs, or in single row and file while students and their teacher prepared for tests of all kinds. The teacher whispered, yelled, almost laughed, and taught through seasons of administrative temperament more intemperate than the seasons. His entire existence rested upon the piles of work on his desk, which also served as perfect coverage for the times he had to emote. He made it through that year, stronger for the fact that he didn’t send his resignation papers in the June of that academic year.
That classroom, like the teacher, started gathering more students, more chairs, and more responsibilities. It served as headquarters for after-school and summer programs on a regular basis. It served as an ELA and social studies room, even though math books anchored the leftover texts. The custodians had painted the lockers blue, and the influx of human traffic scuffed and scratched the lockers, revealing some dull-brown streaks. A room that once only had student desks and a huge meeting desk turned book holder accumulated bookshelves of different use, and to make up for that, the lights closest to the white board dimmed, pushing all the attention to the bookshelves.
Walking into it yesterday, I noticed the waxed floor, the newer desks already set in groups, and all the stuff I moved from my upstairs office to my new classroom piked up on top of the monster table in the back. The bookshelves had blocked the sun from piercing my eyes, so maybe I should be grateful. As I started to dust off shelves, removing books that served as clutter to my mission for the upcoming school year, I smiled at the idea that I’d have one more chance to get better at this thing I call my calling, my career, and my professional life.
I also noticed, close to the whiteboard, an uncovered hole in the wall. The second year teacher had reprimanded a student for accidentally kicking a hole in the wall, throwing her out of the year’s Christmas pizza party as punishment for it. Over the years, teachers had deftly put bookshelves and chart paper over it, but never seemed to address that hole. I peeked at the whole and noticed someone had tried to patch the drywall up, filling it with plaster and coloring it the same green as the wall.
The hole looks better, but it’s still there, and that’s OK. Just making it to the point where I noticed the hole satisfies the second year teacher in me.