Saturday, October 26, 2013

Early Bird or Worm

Teacherkarp and I were driving to school. The sky was not even tinged with orange. A good half hour remained before the sun would peak over the horizon.  Never one to miss the opportunity to use a cliche I said:

"The early bird catches the worm."

(Or in our case the best parking space.)

But Teacherkarp pointed out that was reason enough for any self-preserving worm, to pull the fallen-leaf covers back over her head and wait for the early bird to be sated with those creatures foolish enough to be early risers.

Everything in life is perspective.  Our school day starts at 8:00 am.  There was discussion about making the start time 9:00 am but that would bring the ending time  close to 4:00 pm, a time when teachers who commute back to the suburbs would be caught in lots of rush hour traffic.

So we complain loudly, that our students don't make it to first period on time. (We are the early birds- they are the cautious worms)

I survived another open school night (my sixtieth by my count - two a year for thirty years).  My Facebook page and blog roll are filled with stories of touching moments, I consider any night no one cries (especially me) a victory.

The night before, Mr. Teacherfish and I had dinner at a local diner. Mr. Teacherfish reported having worked that day at a sight which allowed him to watch planes pass so close that he could see clearly the names of the airlines - Air Emirates, Swiss Air, Air Afrique.  As I watched the world of our insignificant neighborhood from the glass plate windows of the diner, I thought of the passengers on those planes and wondered how little our mutual lives intersected as they flew over on the way to the International Airport.

I thought how much less true  this is during open school night, I am told of  homes lost in the hurricane, anxiety attacks, lead poisoning and family deaths.  I take it all in and the next day I'm teaching the distance formula and the relationship between angles again, just the same as before. That's what they tell us to do.  Teach content-rigorously.

And yet like parallel lines and a transversal, our lives do intersect.  My friends on Facebook and other blogs prove we do matter. (My personal impact this year involved time and energy spent in the programming and placement office trying hard to untangle bureaucratic messes- hardly the grist for moving Facebook posts)

The day after open school night I find myself back in yet another classroom before the sun rises.  I quickly stow my personal belongings under the desk, lock the door and run to make copies.
And when I return to the classroom the belongings are gone.  The panic rises, no keys to open my house door, no wallet or money to take a bus home.  And then my co-teacher asks me why he saw my coming out of our next door neighbor's classroom.  I go next door.  There is my stuff- hidden under his desk.

Too many classrooms for this old teacherfish,  Perhaps I need to be the cautious earthworm and crawl back to safety until the early birds have all flown away and I can remember in which room  I actually teach first period.

My students wouldn't mind.  They'd love a few more hours of sleep.

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