>Monday morning I walked into my classroom with the uneasy feeling that someone had been there during the weekend. The door was unlocked, the shades were drawn, and the chairs were not up on the desks as they are at the end of each day.
“Did I leave it like this?” was my first thought. I’ve been very stressed lately, and stress can overload my brain to the point of forgetfulness.
I asked my next door neighbor-teacher, and she suggested it might have been the cleaning staff. “You know Dinah often closes the shades when it gets hot, and she’s in here when the sun’s shining in.” But would she leave it unlocked? Well, yes, occasionally she has done that.
But all the chairs down? That’s a routine I wouldn’t forget. The students are so in the groove that if I ask them to stack chairs instead, they get confused. Most of the chairs, at least, would have been put up.
So began the search for a solution. I asked Robin, the After School Care coordinator, if the homework and tutoring group has used my room. She said no, they never use mine, and they didn’t have tutoring on Friday. I thanked her and decided it must have been Dinah, even though the chair thing didn’t make sense.
The week went on, crazy as the last week of school usually is. We had fun, we had rising energy levels, and I finished and sent home report cards. On the last day of school, my kiddos were well represented in the school slide show and enjoyed their autograph books. I finished cleaning my room and preparing for its summer school inhabitants before heading downtown to the annual staff luncheon.
One of our lovely professionals, a teacher who taught in my room a few years ago, had recently announced her retirement. As part of the farewell festivities, our building’s equivalent to the Not Ready for Prime Time Players had made a memory video. Her current and former coworkers starred in scenes she remembered (and some she might rather forget) from her many years of teaching.
Their stage? My room. Obviously, the previous weekend.
My reaction? I didn’t say a word. I couldn’t. It was her day, her moment, and there was no way on earth I was going to put a damper on it. Not. A. Chance.
I was embarrassed, too. If the Film Crew had let me know, I could have straightened the room or at least cleared the desk and file cabinet to make a better background.
I also felt uncomfortable. I’d assumed the room condition and the unlocked door were due to the after school program or Dinah, the cleaning woman. I hadn’t talked to Dinah, but I had questioned Robin, the After School Care coordinator. She wasn’t at the luncheon, so my first item of business afterward needed to be an apology phone call or email.
Most of all, I felt hurt. Left out. Unimportant. I teach in a public school; my workspace carries no illusions of privacy or ownership. Common courtesy, though, is always a welcome touch. A simple “Hey, Daisy, we’ll be using your room this weekend for the retirement flick” would have been nice. An after-the-fact “By the way, we think we left your room in good shape, but if anything’s out of order it’s because…” would have eased my mind, too. An actual request like “Daisy, we’d like to film in your room because it was hers. Would that be okay?” was obviously too much to expect.
My coworkers must not have been Girl Scouts when they were younger. Girl Scouts learn to always leave a place better than they found it.
My wannabe Oscar-winning teacher pals aren’t environmentalists, either. “Take only pictures; leave only footprints” was beyond them.
The truth is worse, though. This is the last in a long series of communication errors, small and large. Emails with my name left off. Major decisions made regarding my students – but not including or informing me. Getting invited to assist with a major writing project, but then being dumped unceremoniously with no notice, wondering what I’d done wrong. This small event, the lack of Room Service, wouldn’t even register on the radar by itself. But as part of the whole — it speaks loudly and clearly.
In the pecking order at this school, I’m Chicken poop.
Well, at least chicken poop makes good compost.