Recently while navigating through the pages that support my blog site, I stumbled upon a page full of statistics where I learned that…
…during the past 90 days my teacher blog
has been read by people in 35 different countries!
I was amazed and humbled.
A person writing a teacher blog should probably never admit this; but some of those countries I had never even heard of. (Thankfully I didn’t teach high school geography).
Sometimes it is a lonely commitment, to sit down at my desk in my home and type my heart out about the teaching profession I love. You wonder if anyone will ever value (or even read) the words that you write. Thank you loyal followers. You make my efforts feel so worthwhile. At 3:00 am (yes that is the current time when I’m writing this), it helps to know that my words are welcome in places around the world I will never have the opportunity to visit. I am in awe.
Recently while watching a young student teacher assign homework to a group of middle school students, I heard all the young teens groan. What was their frustration? Their homework was being assigned out of the textbook. Their texts were huge and they didn’t want to carry the book home in their backpacks along with all their other texts. The teacher gave a brief apology. “We don’t have paper to use. The budget is low. We have to use our textbooks for homework. Sorry.”
I know when I start to describe this dilemma there will be people who won’t understand. They’ll tell me that no child in Africa has a textbook and they would be honored to have one to use. Other people will tell me about classrooms around the world where the entire class must share a pencil or scratch their calculations out with a stick in the sand. Maybe, in hindsight, I shouldn’t have even brought this up when I have just bragged about 35 countries reading this blog. Awkward moment.
However, can you imagine corporations in America telling their employees to market, design, and produce a product without using paper? It is a ludicrous notion. And yet it happens in our classrooms all the time. Teachers are routinely asked to teach without supplies as basic as paper. For decades I have listened to administrators beg and then threaten teachers not to use paper or copy machines. School budgets simply can’t absorb the cost of paper or copy machine repair. Taxpayers will vote for building a new school. But they will not vote money for a school operating levy.
Before every election, politicians make hefty promises to support education. After every election they promise taxpayers to make hefty budget cuts. The first to be deserted? The schools…more correctly…the students.
I once wrote a humorous piece on copy machines in schools that I will share here. If you’ve never worked in a school, you won’t believe it. But every single situation is something I have experienced while teaching in schools in America.
I’m not talking about kids who don’t want to study and look on classmates’ papers during a test. I’m talking about machines that copy worksheets, newsletters to parents and homework assignments. Here is the reality within schools.
- The only safe and accurate assumption to make is that no school in America will ever have a copier for teachers to use. Don’t set your standards too high. The reality will hurt too much.
- I don’t mean that there won’t be one on the premises. Usually if you know where to look you can spot one. In my job before my last teaching job, I could spot one near my classroom. It was in a small room with glass windows, but the door was locked. You could see it and salivate, but that was all. I struggled for five years to get a key to that door. Remember this is a true story.
- If you ever actually spot a copy machine on school premises don’t get too excited. Some copy machines are never allowed to be used by teachers. Only administrators and secretaries have the authority to use them. Intelligence and advanced degrees won’t buy you the right to touch them.
- If the copy machine assigned to teachers is on, it will ask for a password. But the password you’ve been assigned will never work when you need it most. In some instances it will never work at all. You will have to exchange other school supplies (like staplers, and 3 hole punches) to use the password of another teacher. But they will never let you know their password, they will only tap it in quickly with their hand covering the little window on the machine. They are not fools. Teachers with working passwords are like English royalty. No working password? Learn to curtsy.
- If you report to your administrator that your password is not working they will tell you to fill out a form…these days online…and send a request to technology. You will never be able to find the name of the form. It will probably be named nwpw#3256. That stands for non-working password. They throw in the numbers because they are afraid you might figure out the name of the form and consequently use paper and toner.
- If you ever get a password and see a copy machine with no line next to it, trust me it isn’t working. Go ahead. Don’t believe me. It may appear to be working. Unfortunately you will only believe this after it eats your master copy.
- No matter how early you arrive at school or how late you stay, the copy machine will always have a long line next to it.
- If you arrive at 5:00 am and there is no line next to it, you will be in charge of turning it on. It will take forever to warm up. If you stand there and wait, forty-five minutes later you will finally figure out that it isn’t working.
- If you turn it on to warm up and come back twenty minutes later to run your copies, there will be one person in front of you at 5:20. They will be running 30 page packets.
- No plan bell is ever long enough to work your way to the front of the copy line. You will make it to the front of the line at the exact moment you have to be back in class teaching.
- If you finally do get to the front of the copy line and are excited, you are only moments away from discovering that the person in line in front of you jammed the machine. They will never admit this and you will be left trying to unjam his jam and everyone behind you will believe you broke the machine. They will be complaining about you all over the building that day.
- If you find that the machine does not have a line, your password actually works, and it doesn’t show a jam, there is only one possible explanation. There is no paper left in the cabinet.
- If you report to the administrator (or more probably someone he has designated) that there is not paper in the cabinet, she will tell you that you must order copy paper from your budget.
- You have no budget for ordering paper.
- Kinkos (is that still their name?), Staples and Office Depot know all these facts and love them. Their stock is buffered by the long line of teachers who use their take home salaries to buy copy paper and run off work for their students.
Thus I return to and stand by my original premise. No school in America will have a copier for a teacher’s use. We can replace chalkboards with wipe off boards and sometimes even smart boards. Every kid can carry a cell phone and an electronic notebook. Those that can’t, will soon have to walk to the public library to submit their work online, because no school in the Land of the Free can afford copy paper.
TEACH…To Change Lives
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