I was there this morning - not exactly early, but I didn't sleep in either. I was there because I wanted to make sure that I would get my year started off right. That would involve my having all my desks arranged, posters and maps on the walls, chairs pushed up tight to tables and desks, with papers and books stowed in all the appropriate spots. Computers would be bookmarked with just the right web sites for the first language arts unit, and the number line would stretch across the room just above the white board.
Hold on a second. White board? What white board? Those won't be installed until the evening of
August 28th. Waitaminnit - check me on this - that would be the evening after the first day of school. Alright then, I'll just get to work arranging the desks in my room and -
Not quite ready for that either, since there are four contractors sitting around in my room drinking coffee from thermoses larger than I might have imagined in my youth. I could wait until they finish up, but when they're done, I still have a great big rolling tool box in the middle of the floor that they have shown no interest in shoving out of the way. They still have a job to do, after all.
Don't get me wrong, I want these guys to finish. I need them to finish. It's just that the irony of this experience is that it began eight years ago. At the beginning of my first year of teaching, I was told that we needed to be ready to pack up our things and be ready to move into portable classrooms in order to facilitate the "modernization" process. They brought us a pallet of boxes to make ready, and we waited for our marching orders. They never came. Years passed. Principals came and went. Teachers quit, retired, changed positions and came back, and we were still waiting for "modernization" to begin. The computer lab that I built when I was the computer teacher was put into storage as I changed position from "specialty prep" to "fourth grade." A set of portables was demolished, and another was brought in. The classrooms on the top floor were contaminated with mold, so more portables were brought in. The tile in the lower floor was coming up by the dozens, so they removed it while we finished out the year on concrete floors. Two years ago, I moved my fourth grade classroom out of the basement and into a portable on the playground.
Construction started in earnest during the spring of this year. During standardized testing, heavy machinery pounded away. I was still skeptical. During summer school, we watched the foundation for the elevator shaft that would bring us into twentieth century compliance being poured. I began to believe that this thing might happen.
Ten days from now, I will have a new crop of fourth grade students in my room. There is new tile on the floor. The cabinets have been painted a cheery shade of yellow. I know that there are still things to do. There are no blinds on the new windows. The data plugs trail off into the air that connects them to - nothing yet. The white boards are in a warehouse, awaiting delivery. I await anxiously the end of modernization. I'm ready to go.