Right now it's all about tables, desks and chairs. We are moving things around in preparation for the first day of school. For kids. Teachers have already had a week of wandering around empty halls, looking up at the clock not in anticipation of the next bell but rather of that moment when there is no time left and like it or not the children will all file in. Or rush in with a summer's worth of energy and stories and friends who need to be caught up on every last thing that happened in the past two and a half months. There will be joy. There will be tears. There will be reunions. There will be school once again.
But for now it remains a somewhat desolate place, as if grades K through Five had been raptured up to Heaven, or Stockton, maybe. In the twenty years that I have been working at this particular school, I have probably had occasion to handle each and every stick of furniture in the place, from the main building to the office across the way. Every Fall it's the same drill: The desks in this room need to be switched with that one, or the ones down the hall need to be raised to fit the ever-expanding fifth graders. Coming to the teaching biz as a recovering mover of modular steel furniture, I possess a unique set of skills that allow me to take some of these mildly absurd requests and turn them into a reality. This allows the rest of our staff to puzzle over just how many copies of that first day worksheet they will need, or if they would like to have the kids sit in groups or nice neat rows. That's not my concern. Once the number of desks and chairs match the number of students on that first day's roll and they are all essentially level, I am on to the next crisis.
Like the paper on the bulletin boards. Soon enough, those vertical surfaces will be filled with the scribblings and mathematical assertions of the young minds we are attempting to coax into new and exciting revelations. For now, there are great expanses of primary colors, with border around the edges for that finished look. And as soon as these boards become filled with the work of our young charges, one or more of them will get it into their heads to see if they can't rip a hole in one of them. Or tear the border off as they run down the hall instead of being outside for recess. Or lean back in one of those chairs that have supported dozens of backsides for as many years until they finally just give out. Or that desk that seems to have lost a screw that keeps the front leg from collapsing, just out of the blue.
But for now, it's peaceful and orderly. It is the calm before the storm. The storm that begins on Monday at eight AM.