This week we had a normal Wednesday in the life of my school. When I say normal, I mean that nothing unusual happened. For example, in addition to teaching, I had 3 important meetings. One was about the progress my department is making in using technology, the second was about developing a scope and sequence document for the math department, and the third was an informational pitch on a new learning management system the school is considering. All of these things are important to my job, but not particularly unusual.
What got me thinking was not my three little meetings, but the fact that they are such a small part of the workings of our school. Tons of events went on, things that make this school move forward, and for every item I can list here, there were likely dozens of others happening that I know nothing about. For example, 150+ different sections of courses were taught today, a day in which students had only three 80 minute classes. We had separate chapel services for both the middle and upper school students. Upper school students enjoyed listening to a career day speaker talk about working for Disney. Our visiting writer held a creative writing workshop for interested students and will do a reading of his own work this evening. Our thespian troupe left for state competition this afternoon and our baseball and softball teams had games today. The rest of our spring sports teams (tennis, lacrosse, track) had practice and there was a faculty yoga class. Prospective students and their families toured our campus, there was a meeting about the construction of a new middle school, the drum line had practice, and students made up tests after school. I sincerely hope all 1000 people on this campus stopped for a moment or two for lunch. After school bathrooms will be cleaned, floors swept, trash cans emptied. The phones were answered, the grass mowed, and the mail delivered. Someone paid the bill to keep the lights on.
It seems so easy when you peer at a school through the tiny peephole afforded the outside world, but schools are a thousand moving parts, dozens of interlocking pieces that build not just a pile of homework for kids, but a life for every member of the community. Every adult in my community is an educator, whether they are in the classroom or not and every single teacher also coaches a sport or sponsors a club, supervises the cafeteria or administers tests after school.
People often wonder what teachers do all day and why days that end at 3:00 are so much longer. I challenge you to ask a teacher what she does all day, to ask your student what goes on at his school beyond the classes. I bet you'll be surprised, even awed as I am by how much is expected of the people that work so hard to educate our kids.
Maybe that's not what schools should be, but who am I to say? It's hard to find time to look up for a moment and see the whole puzzle when you're wrapped up in a thousand little pieces.