They do it with mirrors

It really is practically winter break.  How’d that happen?  Wake up, go to work, come home, go to bed, and next thing you know it’s almost December.

What Now? asked, in a comment on what is now a three-week-old post, whether my lovely settled feeling at SA was partly due to the new building.  I had been thinking that it was mostly a function of time, but on reflection, the building theory makes a lot of sense.

I live a warmish part of the country, and schools here do not have to have interior hallways like those I, and perhaps you, grew up with.  Classrooms can open directly to the outdoors here, and most at SA do. While students might put on a jacket in order to walk from one room to another, they don’t have to put on snow pants or parkas.  We have patios with picnic tables instead of an indoor cafeteria, and when it’s too cold or too hot or it rains, the students go inside the classrooms for lunch, but they can eat outside for at least half of the year.

One problem with this, though, is that there isn’t very much indoor gathering space besides the classrooms.  We opened a new library two years ago, which immediately became a socializing space–not what anyone had planned, but it showed how much the students wanted to have an indoor socializing space.  Fortunately, they had expressed this through whatever process SA had for finding out what the students wanted from the new building (these surveys were done before I arrived, of students who have graduated by now), and we now have a high-school building with interior hallways and a fair bit of indoor socializing space.

I’d have to say that the biggest difference is simply that students don’t have a strong impulse to move away from the classrooms.  Instead of packing up and going to the library or the picnic tables during their free periods, they might just sit down in front of the lockers, or in the big areas that will eventually be furnished lounges (furniture is on order).  This means that if I pop out of my classroom at lunch or during my free period, there are usually some of them hanging around not too far away.  The classroom I share with Romola is in the half of the top-floor hallway with the sophomore lockers (the freshmen are at the other end), so the kids I see the most in this way are my recent students and their friends.  It’s a pleasant vibe, mostly, although occasionally I do have to stop and ask them to “sit with more decorum”–this is the wording I have chosen to use when I feel that the way in which they are sprawled over one another is just a bit too suggestive.  The phrase is a bit prissy, but it works.

As for my colleagues, several factors contribute to a generally sweeter vibe overall.  One is that I happen to like almost everyone on my floor, which means that almost all of my casual encounters during the day are at least superficially pleasant ones.  A second is that nearly everyone has his or her own room–only two rooms on the floor are shared–which means that people usually come out on purpose when they are ready to have lunch or are happy to have a chat while making a cup of tea, rather than having to leave their rooms because someone else is teaching in there.  Last year, the workroom could be crowded, and often there was someone in there who really didn’t want to be there instead of in a nice quiet classroom; that’s rarely the case this year.

Lunchtime can be extremely pleasant, with Dr. Tea and Elinor and Akela and some other colleagues I like, all of sitting down and enjoying our lunches together.  My problem continues to be that I am so likely to be busy during lunch, but at least once a week I do manage to sit and relax with whomever else has managed to keep the lunch break free.

I don’t think these factors would be enough to create coziness and settledness if there were already friction and discord, but they seem to help improve what already seems like a pretty good situation.  Although there continue to be drawbacks to sharing a room (more on that in another post), I also like the location of the room Romola and I share.  It’s just upstairs from the main office, and mere steps from the workroom.  Nothing in the new building is really inconvenient, but this room seems particularly convenient to me.

As I write this, it’s Sunday night, and I’m a little wigged out by everything I didn’t manage to do this weekend, but at the same time, I’m looking forward to going back tomorrow.  I’m still pretty amazed, three years and nine months later, that I dropped into this job that I like so much.  There’s something to be thankful for!


One response to this post.

  1. Interesting! And kind of amusing to me, since my classroom is on the sophomore hallway as well; not living in a warmish part of the country, the students spend quite a lot of time sitting (often with little decorum, although in a single-sex school this is perhaps less noticeable) on the floor of the hallway by their lockers. Sometimes they and their noise make me a little crazy, and I frequently have to insist before school that they maintain an actual hallway through which people can pass, but mostly it all feels very cozy and congenial to have former and current students camped out at my doorway.

    I’m still incredibly grateful for my job as well and am so glad that you’re sharing the same amazement and delight!


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