In my last post, we talked about the lack of air-conditioning at Central, and via the comments we went over the windows, airflow, and whether it is worth it to drop $800k for 10 days out of the year.
Recently, I heard back from one of the teachers who was nice enough to answer my question “What do you need?” Below are the responses – I think these three items are significant for various reasons, but before I dive into my thoughts, here they are for your reading pleasure:
1) Cleaner, better quality air. My students and I (and my colleagues), especially those of us affected by allergies and/or asthma, are quite miserable every day of the year due to the dust, mold, and dirty air in this school
2) A larger, more accessible classroom. As you saw, I have my students seated in groups of 4, to foster collaborative group work. However, I can barely get in between the groups to observe them more closely, and the kids don’t have any room to move.
3) A classroom that isn’t used every period of the day, so that I can be in my room during my lunch and planning time to more effectively, well, plan my lessons and grade papers! It’s very difficult to do when changing locations every couple of hours. I know travelling teachers have it way worse than me!
From where I sit, these are big (I would even say, “bigger”) issues. Based on what little I know of modern window-mounted AC units, they wouldn’t do squat for higher quality air. Would they? The other two issues speak to the physically cramped space within the building. Just a wild thought here, but if the building had fewer students (and fewer students per class), these last two objectives could be met quite easily, no?
I would be very curious to hear from more teachers. And more students. If, for instance, that these three issues were not isolated to one teacher but were in fact common for a vast majority of the people in the building, what do we do about that?
Another big question, to what degree is “education” and “teaching” directly affected by these obstacles? The taxpayers and voters want to know what the “bang for the buck” is in terms of passing referenda. A $300 million bond that results directly in shiny new buildings can certainly give certain members that warm fuzzy feeling, but how do we measure the real impact in educational terms?
As a closing note, my heart and endless thanks go out to our teachers. With sincerity, I say a big huge “THANK YOU” to all of you who teach our children, yet again without a contract (at this point in time), day in and day out, some in worse conditions than others.