Well it’s my first year in a portable, and at a new school no less. So far I’m enjoying the change and I’m loving my new school, even though they don’t have colour printing (how do they even accept these working conditions? like, how do they even do their jobs?) and after being in the portable for six days there are some serious pros and cons that I’ve already concluded.
The biggest pro so far is that nobody bothers me, like, ever. (Other than the students, obviously they bother me all the time.) But no teacher ever comes by looking to park their procrastination train in my station, to borrow my things, or to try to co-plan. Some teachers at my new school have never even seen me and likely never will. I could probably choke on a prize bin candy after school and nobody would even find me until some fourth or fifth graders decided to tell someone that no one was answering the door, which, at the rate we’ve been going, could probably be a good week in. Today some students showed up from the other grade four class what I thought was too early for rotary so I told them to come back in 20 minutes, and when I opened the door twenty minutes later I found them all just sitting on my portable steps. Instead of going back to class they just sat out there, waiting. I felt badly for not being clear enough but at the same time I was in awe of their utter lack of any common sense. I guess this is my adjustment period coming from grade six. Anyway this is why I don’t think anyone would take immediate action about my death. If the door was locked and nobody was answering I think they’d just start a game of Manhunt, because sometimes they do that when I’m alive and trying to teach.
I feel like the portable is a little fortress that I can lock myself into. If I draw the curtains nobody can see in and I can’t see out. The students don’t eat in the portable so sometimes I have as many as fifty blissful minutes to myself. Of course the students come banging at the door trying to get back in for whatever desperate reason they have that recess, but I just ignore them and go on eating my salad and checking my Facebook giving formative feedback.
And another definite pro is the air conditioning in small quarters. I don’t want to tell the teachers from my former school this, but it’s almost too cold. I need a sweater in there. Sometimes I have to step outside to warm up. That’s all I’ll say about that because if you’ve been following the threads in the Facebook teacher groups, there are some seriously outraged teachers demanding air conditioning and I don’t want to rub it in. But I was one of them for the last seven years so I don’t feel guilty, not even a little. Hello from the other side, suckers.
Well every pro has its con side; such is the yin and yang of life. It gets lonely out in my portable. Some days I only interact with nine- and ten-year-olds, and that’s not healthy. Soon I’m going to start busting out a cartwheel in the middle of a sentence or just completely ignoring people while they’re trying to help me with something. My fellow portable colleague and I actually schedule lunch dates in the staff room, but so far we’ve stood each other up more times than we’ve made it. I’m yearning for some adult interaction. If the principal ever goes on a pilgrimage out to my portable I’m going to get right in her bubble and tell her all about my day and my dog and anything else that’s on my mind.
Speaking of my fellow portable colleague, today she pointed out another con of cottage life: the stank. When I came back in to my portable at the end of the day all I could smell was the stench of wet shoes. A whole rotting bin of them. But it wasn’t even raining today so I can only conclude the wet smell is from sweat, and emotionally I don’t know what to do with that. Can I get an MSDS sheet for Febreeze? I knew it was bad when my colleague walked in and pointed out the smell, because why doesn’t her portable smell like that? Or do you just get acclimatized to your own portable’s smell? Do I smell like my portable when I go in the school the way your clothes smell like whatever you cook in the oven? I’m getting pretty concerned about this.
But I think that all #cottagelife teachers would agree that the biggest con of all is the indoor/outdoor shoe battle. I give it a solid nine on the stress chart. My grade fives go into the school for three different subjects, and all of them (fours and fives) go in to eat before going out for recess. For lunch they need to wear their outdoors, and this is obviously going to be a problem come winter. Sometimes they go in for a rotary subject before going out for recess, so they need to wear their indoors and bring their outdoors. For gym class they need to wear their indoors, but sometimes we have recess after so we go back to get our outdoors, and sometimes our lunches, too, if we’re going straight there. It’s a logistical nightmare that I challenge anyone with a doctorate to take on. And all I can keep thinking is, “WINTER IS COMING.” We really just need to bring back those galoshes you can just pull over your shoes. Why did those ever go out of style?
Portable life is just yet another reminder that everything in teaching (and in life) is equal parts good and bad. You can always find the pluses and the minuses. It usually depends on how much coffee you’ve had.