The Next Page Entry 63: Hand me that mop!

The Next Page Entry 63: Hand me that mop!

custodian's cart
Image by deepcove from Pixabay

It’s been two straight nights Shaina has skipped cleaning my room. It must be easy to forget a whole building, right? I mean, we’re all of 104 paces away, if you go by Sanjay’s after-lunch demonstration last week.

That must be sheer drudgery. 

And it’s probably easy to ‘forget’ to clean a classroom when the teacher doesn’t complain…except inside a journal.

And that same teacher who recently snagged from the custodian’s closet a bottle of the district-approved non-toxic spray to wipe down the desks… and last weekend brought in her own vacuum cleaner for those now inevitable ‘missed assignments’.

Then again, maybe Shaina is more prone to show up when I am around, hoping she can dig up a little dirt.

Am I being paranoid? 

***

Maybe I’m in the wrong line of work. I should buck for a promotion to custodial assistant. I might even get a little more respect from Mrs. Nix. 

On second thought, if Shaina found out I was the one who slapped her name on eight unlabeled items in the staff fridge, she’d hardly be on board with me as a ‘team member’, now would she?

The Next Page Entry 59: Is she actually a spy? More on Shaina.

The Next Page Entry 59: Is she actually a spy? More on Shaina.

spying through the blinds
Yep, Shaina is kind of like that factory foreman [foreperson] few workers like, but have to obey and, at times, suck up to.

Now that my radar is up, there are hints that she may well be an extension of Mrs. Nix. She lingers for an extra minute after she’s done with the room. Maybe she’s congratulating herself for remembering to actually clean the place. But there is this uneasy silence and I try not to engage.

But this whole thing is just plain weird. And it sends me further into a protective shell. Which I make sure includes lots of peanut M & M’s. And my cell phone.

I’m not sure what’s more troubling—

—that our jobs as teachers could be daily affected by the perception of —euphemism alert!— ‘non-instructional staff’.

OR

—that an administrator might actually feel the need to rely on a ‘non-instructional staff’ to keep tabs on us.

Yeeesh.

The Next Page Entry 58: Suspicions arise

The Next Page Entry 58: Suspicions arise

woman spy in dark glasses

So, this was interesting. On Friday, Mrs. Nix was not available for the weekly behavior awards assembly, so she had the head custodian run the show. 

Now I have nothing against custodians and they are pivotal to a school’s smooth operation, but doing what the principal, or at least a teaching staff member, should be doing? 

I guess the reasoning is the custodian sees pretty much every kid every day, whether it’s in the lunch room or in the yard or hallway…I guess.

There just seems to be something more here. 

I can’t put my finger on it, but there are times when it feels like we are being ‘observed’ by Shaina, as if she’s taking mental notes. And who she might share these mental notes with, well, the same person who assigned her Friday assembly ’emcee’ duties would be my guess.

Some of this suspicion comes from the kinds of questions she ‘casually’ asks us when she’s cleaning the room, questions that beg for opinions about how the school is being run, rather than the simpler, more objective, ‘what did you do today?’ type comments. Or even more preferable, ‘I promise I won’t skip cleaning your room every other day.’

And she seems to be lingering in the staff room more than I recall, and that’s coming from me, who keeps staff room time to a minimum.

Odd…this much I can say. I’m buttoning up around her a bit.

The Next Page: Beth’s Journal–Ms. Page fritzes out

The Next Page: Beth’s Journal–Ms. Page fritzes out

notebook pageSo, I could have written this on my own at home last night, but I just *had to* save it up for my classroom journal. 

***

Ms. Page went a little zooey yesterday after school.

I was coming out the front doors and there she was marching past me and straight to the office. 

When she came back out, she was putting on one of the yard duty’s yellow vests and she had a whistle hanging out of her mouth and she was heavy-duty glaring straight ahead.

She stepped right in front of a big blue SUV, turned and faced it with her hand held up, and blew her whistle.

mean traffic copThen she waved kids toward her. They were frozen. She told them to move along, that it was safe. I kind of think the kids would rather have stepped in front of the SUV than to disobey her, so across they went, including a couple of kids who didn’t even plan to cross.

This went on for ten straight minutes. 

One of the moms actually honked her horn at Ms. Page. I wanted to cover my eyes, but I just couldn’t. 

Ms. Page blew the whistle even louder and raised her arm even higher. I saw the mom cover her face and look downward.

Ms. Page yelled, “Put your phone down and pay attention!” at another parent. 

And I heard her saying something to herself about ‘not part of the solution…part of the problem’.

It was all over in about ten minutes.

When the last car pulled away…slowly!…the few remaining moms and dads walking their kids home applauded Ms. Page, who by that time looked a little bedraggled [one of our vocab words of the week!] and embarrassed on her way back to the office.

Best. Show. Ever.

The Next Page Entry 31: Good lady, that Mrs. Helm

The Next Page Entry 31: Good lady, that Mrs. Helm

chocolate-chip cookies
Staff meeting. Interesting. I sat down and the two colleagues at the table found reason to move elsewhere. I kept my head down in the Austin Kleon book I was reading and busied myself by taking out my wheel book.

Then our librarian, Sally Helm, sat down by me. I didn’t expect her to be staying for the meeting, but figured she had some quick announcement for the staff. I pulled out my Joy of Cooking chocolate chip drop cookies [hold the extra tablespoon of flour, thank you very much] and, after pulling out a couple for Mr. Taylor, plopped them between us. I shot her a glance and a smile, then nodded toward the cookies. She dove in.

A few minutes later, we both eyed the last cookie. I nudged it toward her. She chuckled and, with her notebook, slid it back toward me. Kate Smalley leaned forward and hissed [that’s really the only word that fits here], “Would one of you two eat it?” I scooped up the cookie and napkin and underhanded it to her table.

Was happy Mrs. Nix hadn’t shown up yet. It would have been just like her to pull the ol’ “And Ms. Page, did you bring enough for everybody?’ line.

After the meeting ended, it hit me. Shirley was not on the meeting agenda, but there she still was.

“Did you sit here just for the cookies?” I asked her.

“I can’t think of a better reason,” she said.

But it hit me…when she sat by me, there was no hint of chocolate chip drop cookies.

A highlight of my day, that lady was.

The Next Page Entry 30: Journal-sharing

The Next Page Entry 30: Journal-sharing

crowd with hands raised
Okay, a slight exaggeration… Photo by Alex Bracken on Unsplash

Added a new twist to journal time. We go around the room and ask for a favorite sentence they wrote during that session. Kids can pass on the opportunity, but most are anxious to share. Unfortunately, after one annoying incident, I had to add—and require them to copy down—the following guideline:

If I include a living, breathing person in my selected sentence, it must be in a positive way. If it might be embarrassing to that person, I will not read it to the class.

The Next Page Entry 29: Thanks, Mrs. Nix

The Next Page Entry 29: Thanks, Mrs. Nix

thank you sign in multicolored lettersThanks, Mrs. Nix, for spurring me to continue to give kids choices in what they want to read.

Seems that the more you insist on the value of what some offshore publisher recommends for my kids, well, that just doesn’t wash with me.

But, to appease leadership, for ten minutes a day, we’ll open the book about tarantulas and the scientists who study them. We’ll break down a page of text for any possible value—vocabulary, favorite phrases, valuable information— and then move on to our other language arts resources, such as, ‘ourselves as writers, ‘ourselves as readers’ and the materials we value. We’ve had some very interesting discussions centered around ‘What I’m reading’ and ‘What I’m writing’.