Friday, December 12, 2014

Teacher Team

Yesterday morning at 7 AM there were quite a few people crazy enough to be at our school well before the first class. I was among them. This is a time when it's highly unlikely that a crisis will arise, or I'll get called to some meeting somewhere.

Usually this is a time I can plan my classes, and the only other person in the foreign language office, where I hang out, is a Chinese teacher also quietly working on lessons. At least that's what I think she's working on. I can't read a single word she writes. For all I know, she could be writing the Great American Novel in Chinese.

But yesterday she was elsewhere. In her place, were two teachers who wandered in for no particular reason. We began to discuss sleep, and lack thereof. I mean, if any of us had any sense we'd probably have been sleeping at that very moment. I myself haven't even got a class until around 9:30, so I've really got less of an excuse than most for being so early. We soon learned we all tend to wake up in the middle of the night and wonder whether we'll get back to sleep.

One of my companions was a dean, and from time to time I'll accompany her on her rounds. One day last year as I did so, both of us had woken up at ungodly hours, and she said to me. "I'm really confused today. For example, I'm not actually sure whether or not you're really here." This comment was greatly persuasive, because at that moment, I wasn't sure whether or not I was actually there either. It wasn't until I faced my PM class, which that year included the loudest young woman on God's green earth, that I was reminded that, yes, this could not possibly be a dream or I would've certainly woken up.

One of the obstacles to sleep is a partner who snores, and the three of us all grapple with that issue to one degree or another. I myself have purchased a white noise machine, this one I believe,  which I found on Ebay for under 20 bucks. It's great. My friend the dean, it turns out, has one too. She, though, being far more classy than I will ever be, paid 80 bucks, and hers has some kind of chip or something with extra sounds. Now both of us, it turns out, used to use fans in wall air conditioners instead. I had to stop when my wall conditioner unexpectedly dropped dead. It was mid-winter and it didn't seem like a good time to have another installed.

Our friend, a physical education teacher, sat rapt at our conversation, taking in every word. Not only that, but he questioned us carefully. He told us how his sleep issues were going, and asked whether or not we thought the white noise machine would benefit him and his particular situation. Should he buy the 20 buck model, or should he go wild and spend 80? What were the pros and cons? What was the Ebay return policy? Could you really trust sellers in New Jersey?

We all agreed that a good night's sleep for teachers was in the best interests of our students. We concluded the meeting all feeling that we had learned something useful. In fact, the phys. ed. teacher declared that this was the best and most productive school meeting he'd been to in twenty years.

Nonetheless, I don't think the DOE has anything remotely like this in mind for the Monday and Tuesday Teacher Torture Sessions.

Go figure.
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