Monday, November 27, 2006

A Well-Blown Teacher

Last Monday we had a two-hour late start because of the wind in the area. The power was knocked out to most of the schools in the district, so they called the late start to give the repair crews a chance to get things up and going.

The trouble that we’ve always had with late starts at my school is that a lot of the parents don’t hear that we’re late, and I could see that happening especially on a day like this one because there wasn’t any snow. I also was supposed to teach a before-school remedial class for 2nd graders in the morning, and I had a pretty good idea that most of them wouldn’t get the message. So I went in at my normal time (7:00 a.m.) and manned the phones in the office.

We’re a school of about 600 kids, and I talked to 40+ parents on the phone between 7:00 and 8:00. The assistant secretary showed up at 7:30, and she handled a ton of phone calls too. 5 people called me “ma’am”, which has to do both with gender assumptions in who would be answering the phone at an elementary school and the fact that I have a fairly high voice for a guy.

At 8:00 the cars started pulling up.

“Mr. Rain, what are you doing out here?”
“Telling you to go home. We’re on a two-hour late start.”
“Really? But it wasn’t mentioned on the TV…”

That was the big problem of the day—some wise parents had actually turned on the telly to see what was going on, but something went funky in the pipeline and my district didn’t get on the ticker the way they should have.

After the initial rush of kids coming for the before school program I went back inside, then at 8:30 the kids started coming for the school day proper. 60 more cars I shooed off, with only one parent getting mad.

“But I have to go to work…can’t I leave them here?”
“Sir, the teachers are on a two-hour delay too. There’s no one here to watch the kids.”
“Why can’t you?”
“(sigh) It just isn’t doable, sir. Please come back at 10:30.”

That was my special gift to the staff, giving them the extra time in the morning instead of having to look after the kids who would have shown up. They appreciated it; one of the fourth grade teachers brought me my coat (I’d forgotten it in my room) and another brought coffee.

And man, was it windy. As a transplanted westsider it brought back old, happy memories of growing up in Rochester and listening to the wind rush its way through the giant evergreen trees around my house. I used to love to sleep with my window open almost year round just to listen to that wind sound. We also had a house at Surfside Estates, north of Long Beach, and every year without fail we’d go down to the kite festival. Good times.

All in all, it was a good day. When the kids came we had 30 minutes of instruction, then went right into the lunch break. I was subbed out in the afternoon for meetings, so my total contact time for the day was about 45 minutes. I felt like an administrator!


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