Friday, August 14, 2009

Copy This

School starts soon and at this time of the year, all over the place, teachers are feeling like this little big sitting on this big white globe. There is a lot to plan, to organize, a lot to control, a lot to try and balance. You feel small when you think about all you have to do, but all you can do is look ahead and hope the winds are kind.

It's a challenge, but a good challenge--most of the time.

Some of you will remember a version of this picture when we had "Hope" by Emily Dickinson as our featured poem on Poetry Tuesday. There's a reason.

Teachers as a whole are a hopeful, positive group. We have to be. And we are lucky enough to have the opportunity to start over every year with new students, new plans and new hope.

This year is a tough one at our school. Classes are packed and none are opening up. Lots of part-time employees have been laid off and more and more classified staff are told their jobs are gone. We are told over and over again how much less money our district has and how we must scale back in all areas.

It's OK.
We can handle it.
We're plucky.
We balance upon that big ball of responsibility and practicality.
We gather up our materials and vow to make do with less.
Our enthusiasm will get us through.

Daily we receive e-mail messages from school administrators about the bad economic situation.

We attend more meetings in which we are told about cutbacks and are warned things are likely to get worse.

Still we prepare our syllabi, our course information sheets, our first day welcome handout and swear that we'll still make this the best year ever for our students.

We can do this.

Then, we take those handouts and head to the copying center.

We enter.

Hummmm.... Things are eerily different.

We search for our the familiar copier, the sturdy, reliable one that we know and love that cranks out our copies with speed and efficiency. However, we find it has been replaced by a small, flimsy machine that seems to be made with the leftover trimmings of Dixie cups. Noooooooooo!

We turn to the head of the center who shrugs and says this is what the school ordered to save money. Noooooooooooo!

A lump in the throat, mist in the eyes, we put a paper in the document feeder and wait. Whereas our former machine was a slick, fast rainbow trout coming swiftly to the surface to slurp up the paper, this one is a drugged manatee.

Slowly the paper S L I D E S out of sight and then we wait.

There surely must be tiny monks living within the machine, copying the text by hand, then sending it out the slot. You want that handout stapled? That will take two more monks working overnight.

Oh, this, THIS, my friends is what can finally send perfectly sane, normally relentlessly happy, positive teachers over the edge. You can take away our support staff, limit the number of markers we can have, turn down our air conditioning and we march onward, into the dragon's den of ignorance to slay the demon, but take away our favorite copier and replace it with a toy and that is when even the strongest teacher breaks down.

It's too late for us. What's done is done, but to all my fellow teachers out there I leave you with this prayer:

May your year be a successful one.
May your students be motivated and eager.
May your administrators be wise, kind and judicious.
May you have many shining, glorious breakthrough moments in your classrooms.
And may your copier be one hell of a powerful, paper-sucking, clear-printing, speed demon, bad-ass beast that lives forever.



Anonymous said...

and to you, my friend and dear colleague. god be with us all.

Susan said...

You always know how to say it in just the right way!

Bossy Betty said...

Thank you my teacher friends! Good semesters to you all!!


Anonymous said...

the copy machine is/will be an exercise in patience, self-control, and anger management. it is a brilliant social experiment in teamwork for us all. let's watch how the community develops around the new, mini, copy machine. fascinating.