Saturday, January 3, 2009

Bring It On

Most of the cars in my neighborhood have been covered with some combination of snow and ice lately. When it melts, it just comes back the next day. Can't remember the last time I washed my truck. I wonder if I get a coat of wax on before the rain starts if it will help protect the paint? Not that I care, just curious.
Just this morning one of my neighbors took the cover off his car. He drives some old rust bucket, but also has another vehicle with one of those gray car covers draped over it that sits in his driveway like a giant boulder. Today, while sunlight broke through teasing Portlanders for half an hour, I found him sitting inside his coverless car. It's a shiny black Ford Mustang, with lots of chrome, impeccably cared for. We exchanged smiles. His grin was brighter than the diamond earring he sports. It's his little piece of the city. It's what he can control. Much more than a car, it probably keeps him sane in some way.
Teacher's classrooms function in the same way. They have the potential to do so much. I like to think that a real classroom can go on teaching without the teacher. Mine could.
I remember once a foolish Vice-principal hollered back at a restless faculty that our classrooms weren't ours. "These aren't your classrooms," she snarled, "they belong to the district and you need to ...blah, blah...I stopped listening right there. They are our classrooms, I submit. They are where we work and live and tolerate, and understand, and cry, and inspire. They contain our furniture, our computers, our files, our food, water, and ideas. They just might contain our souls.
That's why I was saddened to learn from a colleague of mine that the new El Cerrito High School, set to open this month on the site of the old one, may not contain some of the most important parts of the teacher's previous classrooms. My friend tells me, "Can you imagine that, the administration wants the new school to contain everything new. They don't want used furniture, old file cabinets, desks, or other things that otherwise might be perceived as a blight on the new school." Imagine that, these same folks who were silent when concern for the appearance of the old school was on teacher's minds, now want to protect the image of their new campus. Apparently one size fits all is not only in the curriculum, it's in the look!
I urge my colleagues to bring everything they need with them. Your environment is something you have control of...something you need to do your best work. Classrooms, like homes, like buildings and public spaces need to look lived in. They need to feel comfortable. They do their best teaching that way.

1 comment:

Marsha Pincus said...

I found it interesting that you were juxtaposing classrooms and automobiles in this entry. In a recent entry, I too was inspired by a comparison between teachers and autoworkers. Take a look if you have a minute.