Room

During all my years of college teaching, I only had my own office during the year I had a visiting position at a SLAC.  It was on a top floor, with a slanted ceiling and a dormer window, and I loved the privacy of it.  I wrote there, I had students there without worrying that they were in someone else’s way, and I made friends with the other folks on the hall.  I also taught one class that was in a seminar room just a few doors away, which was heavenly!

Other years, I was in a cube farm or an office shared among several people or a communal instructor workroom.  At the big university where I taught for three years, I shared with just one other person.  That was pleasant, especially when he or she taught Tuesday-Thursday and I taught Monday-Wednesday and we rarely needed the space at the same time.

When I came to SA, I had a room of my own for the first few months, and then space was reorganized and I joined Dr. Tea in her room, which she took with tremendous good grace.  I look back now and I realize that she must have really liked me, even then (we’re good friends now), to have agreed to such a thing!  She is department chair, though, so when we moved to the new building last year, it was obvious that she needed to stake out her piece of real estate.  I was a bit apprehensive about sharing with Romola, but it has worked out fine, at least as far as I can tell.  It’s not as easy as sharing with Dr. Tea, which was almost effortless, but we get along well and I think Romola and I have come to respect each other’s strengths.  I certainly respect hers–she’s a very strong teacher, much better than I am in several ways.

Still, as I get deeper and deeper dug in to SA, I’m getting a little crankier about this room-sharing thing, and wondering whether there’s any prospect of eventually having my own room.  It’s one thing to share a room when that’s the norm for your department; it’s another when only two rooms on the whole floor are shared.  There are seven English teachers on our floor (plus two other people who teach an English course or two but their primary role is different), and we have five rooms, so three of us have a private room and four of us share those two rooms.

This year has been pretty well managed overall.  I’ve taught my three freshman classes in my own room, and my juniors in Dr. Tea’s room across the hall.  (The extra junior class that I inherited meets in Elinor’s room, which she shares with our maternity-leave colleague.)  Romola has the same setup, which currently gives us one free period together when our room is not in use, which is very helpful for things like meetings and giving makeup tests.  Also, we both teach mostly ninth grade in that room, so the decorations and bulletin boards are pretty much geared toward the same curriculum.

But.  I have a weekly literary-magazine meeting in our room at lunchtime, which means Romola can’t use the room then for meeting with students or giving makeup tests.  After school, sometimes one of us has a student coming in to do a makeup test, but the other one has some students coming in to ask questions, and it’s hard to balance the quiet that one student needs with the other students’ right to come consult their teacher after school.  And next year we’re planning to develop a creative-writing group that may eventually turn into a class, which means even more stress on our room–not to mention that I won’t be teaching ninth grade anymore, and we’ll probably want to rework the bulletin boards.

Today, after school, a student came in whom I hadn’t seen in a while.  She was interested in the creative-writing group, and I wanted to talk with her, but Romola was tutoring a student and I didn’t want to stay and chat. We stood in the hallway for a while, but I felt, and I think she did too, that it would have been good to have some privacy somewhere.  It wasn’t just a question of space–it was also time, since I had to go up to the parking lot and meet the Snork Maiden, and she had to go get picked up by her dad–but space was definitely part of why we didn’t have a longer talk than we had.

We have one departmental colleague in her own room on our hallway who is primarily a middle-school teacher, and because she teaches most of her classes in the middle school, several of us teach classes in her room.  (She has her own because she’s senior to Elinor, me, the colleague who has just gone on leave and will be replaced by a new person in the fall, and Romola–that’s the descending order of seniority of the four of us who share.)  It would make a lot of sense to give her a room in the middle school, thereby freeing up one room and allowing us just to have Romola and the newly hired ninth-grade person share.  But can such a room be found?  The prospects seem dim.

There are definitely good sides to room-sharing: Romola and I get to swap ideas, vent to each other, lend books, and keep current on each other’s practices.  I learned a lot from Dr. Tea during the three years I shared a room with her, and I’m learning from Romola, too.  Still, though–I’m wishing I had a space of my own.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. I was thinking just last week that the classroom I have has done a lot toward shaping my entire experience at FGS, that I would probably like my job a lot regardless of the room but that having a good room spares me from the endless small frustrations that come with a less satisfactory space. Most of the full-time English teachers have a pretty good situation, but one is in quite a dinky room far away from the rest of us, and half the department is on the hot side of the hall (literally — those rooms just bake in late spring and early fall), whereas I am lucky enough to have a big-ish room on the cool side of the hall — mostly luck of the draw, but now that I have gotten used to it, I wouldn’t part with it easily, fair or not. (And that, of course, is how inequity is maintained.) A part-time teacher has my classroom for one course (so four class periods) a week, which is not bad at all (one year it was for two courses, and that got very old), but otherwise it’s my own little space. All of which is to say that I sympathize with the annoyance that must come from having to work around others so much — must be very frustrating! At least you’re near the top of the seniority list for those sharing, so perhaps you’ll work your way up to a better room situation.

    Reply

  2. Posted by meansomething on June 7, 2012 at 2:58 am

    Yes, I’ll probably get into my own room eventually! It will probably be on the “noisy/larger” side of the hall (for your hot and cool, substitute our quiet/smaller and our noisy/larger), although I guess it’s also possible that we’d put two into a larger room–for some reason, the shared rooms are also the SMALLER ones, which is silly!

    Reply

  3. […] to swap with someone so that at least my two nomad classes are in the same room.  As I’ve discussed, it’s dispiriting to be changing rooms all the time when other people get to stay right where […]

    Reply

  4. […] than I have, but not that much longer, so seven years, perhaps?  I mentioned her in passing in the room post: she’s the one who teaches half (or it may be more than half) of her classes in the middle […]

    Reply

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