I went into my school yesterday. I figured that since I technically start getting paid as of September 1st, then September 1st would be a reasonable day for me to go in for the first time this school year. We’re starting school relatively late this year, on September 8th, so this would still give me lots of time to get all ready for the kids. This way, I would actually not be working for free, was my thinking.
Just so you know, teachers in the public school system (here, at least) are on a monthly salary. We are required to be at our place of employment each day 15 minutes before school starts till 15 minutes after school ends. Other than that, we choose when we put in the time necessary to prepare lessons, materials, coach teams, run clubs, etc. Some teachers arrive early in the morning. Some stay late in the afternoon. Some cajole the custodian to let them back in the school during the evening or weekend. Some work mainly at home. But we all put in the time. We have to. During the school day, we’re teaching. We have to have stuff ready to teach, we can’t just wing it (although, to be fair, sometimes we can – it just doesn’t work that well).
It is the rare teacher who does not show up a week or two before school officially begins, ostensibly to set up their classroom and prepare materials that they know they will need. This is especially important if you are changing the grade level or subject that you teach, the school at which you teach, or (and this one applies to me) you have had to move classrooms within the same school.
I had already transported my furniture and boxes to my new room last June. I have so little shelf space that I had left most of the boxes just sitting on the tables. I had put away some stuff in the one armoire-type cupboard. I had placed the furniture and area carpet where I wanted them. Then I closed the door, locked it, and left for the summer.
And yesterday I returned. To a classroom with furniture all piled up in a corner. To boxes piled here and there. To a disconnected telephone. To a carpet tossed in the middle of the room. To a missing computer desk and a missing computer. To the wrong chairs stacked by the door.
So I had to begin again. I spent an hour hunting down the missing desk and computer (someone had placed them in the classroom next door, for some reason), then finding the right chairs and trading them for the wrong ones. I carefully rearranged all the furniture – then rearranged my desk and the computer desk again to minimize the glare on the computer screen. I reconnected the phone and set up a new password on its voicemail system. I gave away a bunch of books to our new Grade 1 teacher – and a rolling bookshelf to hold them all. I set up a laptop computer station for the kids to use in one corner, complete with that area carpet and two big screens for privacy from the rest of the room. I also broke two of those plastic sticks that are used to adjust mini-Venetian blinds.
I worked really hard. And it’s not like I haven’t been working hard moving boxes and furniture over the past several days anyway!
I got kicked out at only 3:30 in the afternoon, because the custodians wanted to secure the school early. No problem, I thought. I’ll have the rest of the week to try to do something with all those boxes and to properly organize my desktop and deskdrawers and my lone cupboard.
This morning, the school secretary phoned me. She told me that there were maintenance people working in my hallway, and that they had requested that no teachers whose classrooms were in that hallway come in today so that they could do whatever they have to do more efficiently. And they may need us to stay out tomorrow too. And perhaps even Friday. But next Tuesday, the first day of school for the kids, should be fine.
Well. I guess I should have gone in last week and worked for free.