There is a new teacher teaching the afternoon class this year. She is young, determined, and confident. I had hoped to develop a mentoring relationship with her, but she doesn’t seem interested. Which is completely fine. She doesn’t have much overlap with me anyway, as she arrives from her morning class at another school across town right about the time when I am leaving to go home, or sometimes even after.
I have been concerned that she doesn’t feel like the room is really hers. It has ME stamped all over it, for one thing. It’s a tiny room, and is arranged the best way I have been able to figure out to do it, and the shelves are full of my books, curriculum, and materials. I have made some space for her, but not nearly enough.
We had a teacher work day recently, and with a little help from me, our Americorps volunteer reorganized our art supply cupboard. She was awesome — she got rid of tons of stuff, and reorganized/repackaged the stuff we want to keep, and now the cupboard is usable. I thought that the afternoon teacher would be happy to see it.
She was. She also took it as a sign that she could make changes, too, so she reorganized some areas of the room. When I came in on Monday, the small drawer unit next to the teacher chair in the meeting area was tucked into a corner where it was difficult to reach, among. I was dismayed — I use the top of the drawer unit to place all the things I will need during morning meeting, and the drawers contain things I use daily or almost daily. When she came in that day we had a brief, intense, awkward conversation, and she made it clear that my drawer unit had been in her way, and she didn’t want it back. I did get an okay from her to bring in a much smaller drawer unit, so I did.
That same week I read different versions of “The Little Red Hen” to my class, and we had a lot of interesting discussions about sharing. The kids unanimously said that she should share the bread when I got to the penultimate page and asked, “what should she do?” But then when we got to the last page and she ate the bread herself (or with her chicks), they all said that was the right thing to do, too. We struggled with that idea — sharing is good but sometimes it’s okay not to share — all week.
Meanwhile, I felt bad for not sharing the room more, but for still wanting my stupid drawer unit back in its old place. Sometimes it’s hard for grown-ups to share, too.