Yes, so here I am writing, as I should be, and the kids are writing as they should be and all the world makes sense. We’ll see how long that lasts.
In the meantime, it appears our custodian is not at all pleased that the kids are doing some of the room clean-up that she is supposed to be doing. Silly me, I would’ve thought she’d welcome the opportunity to slide on even more of her room-to-room duties, but I guess it got back to Mrs. Nix that the kids were using the vacuum cleaner I brought from home.
How do I know Shaina isn’t pleased? She huffed and she puffed and she slid-slammed the trash cans into their corners after emptying them. And while she spent at least ten more minutes in my room than she usually does, she said not one word to me. She usually tries to pry a little info (i.e. ‘dirt’) out of me, no matter how many times I’ve shown no interest in playing along with her interrogations. This time, not word one.
What can I say? Yes, I’m glad I’m letting the kids join me in the classroom earlier than before, and yes, I realize now (and should have realized beforehand) that there is a price to be paid for sidestepping a few school policies.
Mrs. Nix was not thrilled with my ‘8:00 entry’ idea.
I find it helps to just expect pushback from her, so when it comes, I’ve already worked through some of the arguments on both sides and my own general uneasiness. (As I wrote that word ‘uneasiness’, I realized that even a month ago, I would have written ‘fears’. To me, that’s progress.)
Anyway, I heard the expected ‘Why should I make an exception for you?’ and ‘Now other teachers will be asked to do the same thing.’ arguments.
I told her that Room 36 IS an exception because of its location. (I’m always tempted to revisit the sorry state of the room back in August, as well, but I rein myself in.)
And then I called up a photo of one of the wet kids from a couple of days ago.
And then I pulled out an extra surprise–a note from Sanjay’s parents thanking me for the new policy.
(I kept their reasons to myself…something to tuck away for ‘a rainy day’, so to speak.)
Result: The exception will be granted on an interim basis.
It’s been two straight nights Shaina has skipped cleaning my room. It must be easy to forget a whole building, right? I mean, we’re all of 104 paces away, if you go by Sanjay’s after-lunch demonstration last week.
That must be sheer drudgery.
And it’s probably easy to ‘forget’ to clean a classroom when the teacher doesn’t complain…except inside a journal.
And that same teacher who recently snagged from the custodian’s closet a bottle of the district-approved non-toxic spray to wipe down the desks… and last weekend brought in her own vacuum cleaner for those now inevitable ‘missed assignments’.
Then again, maybe Shaina is more prone to show up when I am around, hoping she can dig up a little dirt.
Am I being paranoid?
Maybe I’m in the wrong line of work. I should buck for a promotion to custodial assistant. I might even get a little more respect from Mrs. Nix.
On second thought, if Shaina found out I was the one who slapped her name on eight unlabeled items in the staff fridge, she’d hardly be on board with me as a ‘team member’, now would she?
So, I gave the kids homework over the weekend. Yes, ruthless, aren’t I? I kept it simple. “Bring in a piece of cardboard at least two feet wide and two feet long.” And I gave them two nights to do it. And I encouraged those who had extra cardboard to offer some to others who weren’t able to [or choosing to] track some down. And I suggested to the cardboard-deprived kids to ask their classmates or neighbors or a store for a single sheet. Two nights! Ask for help! Result: 12 out of 27 kids brought some in. Give me a break! And yet, I had a feeling this would happen, so I was ready. I had sauntered down the aisles of Foodko during late-night shelf stocking and asked the folks for the emptied boxes. They were champs. So, yesterday I had cardboard sheets stacked for those who hadn’t followed through. But everything has a price, even castoff cardboard…
Yep, Shaina is kind of like that factory foreman [foreperson] few workers like, but have to obey and, at times, suck up to.
Now that my radar is up, there are hints that she may well be an extension of Mrs. Nix. She lingers for an extra minute after she’s done with the room. Maybe she’s congratulating herself for remembering to actually clean the place. But there is this uneasy silence and I try not to engage.
But this whole thing is just plain weird. And it sends me further into a protective shell. Which I make sure includes lots of peanut M & M’s. And my cell phone.
I’m not sure what’s more troubling—
—that our jobs as teachers could be daily affected by the perception of —euphemism alert!— ‘non-instructional staff’.
—that an administrator might actually feel the need to rely on a ‘non-instructional staff’ to keep tabs on us.
So, this was interesting. On Friday, Mrs. Nix was not available for the weekly behavior awards assembly, so she had the head custodian run the show.
Now I have nothing against custodians and they are pivotal to a school’s smooth operation, but doing what the principal, or at least a teaching staff member, should be doing?
I guess the reasoning is the custodian sees pretty much every kid every day, whether it’s in the lunch room or in the yard or hallway…I guess.
There just seems to be something more here.
I can’t put my finger on it, but there are times when it feels like we are being ‘observed’ by Shaina, as if she’s taking mental notes. And who she might share these mental notes with, well, the same person who assigned her Friday assembly ’emcee’ duties would be my guess.
Some of this suspicion comes from the kinds of questions she ‘casually’ asks us when she’s cleaning the room, questions that beg for opinions about how the school is being run, rather than the simpler, more objective, ‘what did you do today?’ type comments. Or even more preferable, ‘I promise I won’t skip cleaning your room every other day.’
And she seems to be lingering in the staff room more than I recall, and that’s coming from me, who keeps staff room time to a minimum.
Odd…this much I can say. I’m buttoning up around her a bit.