When I started teaching I thought I had found a perfect situation: autonomy in my classroom and a boss who didn’t micromanage. Who couldn’t really, right? Alas, school is not much different from business after all these days: teachers are being asked to do more and more with less time, resources or rewards; leadership lacks and so, as is often the case, micromanagement abounds. It’s only October and already I’ve been frustrated enough at school to engage in blood pressure-raising conversations and vitriolic exchanges with Amy, and to wonder with her in calmer moments what other jobs we could do that would pay about the same so we can maintain our lifestyle (which is by no means lavish, but what we are comfortable with). The other day I said to her, “if I could stand other people’s bodily fluids I’d register for a nursing program right now.”
Without any other employment plans in place, and too early to pray for snow days for temporary reprieve, we do what we can to feel better about things. Recently, this meant joining a few other colleagues to support the drama program at our school and our friend Bill who runs it. We agreed to be involved in a teacher variety show. Bill and I wrote a skit—a hysterical classroom parody, if I may say so myself—that other teacher-friends, including Amy, acted. Other teachers shared their musical talents—playing instruments or singing—or their good nature and were simply willing to get on stage for a laugh. Some students spoofed teachers; others ran the technical aspects of the show.
For a few afternoons I left my classroom and escaped to the auditorium where I spent a few hours laughing, observing, and being a part of something creative and positive. I experienced a camaraderie that was uplifting. I walked away with newfound or rejuvenated respect for some of my colleagues and students. I came to understand better the pull of the stage that so many of our students feel. And I was inspired—again—by Bill’s commitment to his program and to those kids who shine on stage.
So Friday night, when I joined a full house of students and parents and teachers (some retired) and spouses of teachers, who came to show their support and were entertained for an evening (were we ever!) in exchange, those hours I laughed and applauded were only a bonus.