I had one of the dreaded teacher dreams last night. Thanks a lot teacher brain, there are still 16 days of summer left before I begin year 14. At least I got an idea for a post. The following however, is not the scary dream I had. It’s reality. Enjoy.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my arrival to work in the morning on a typical school day. My teacher bag rests uncomfortably on my shoulder. The straps get all twisted and dig into my skin. The bag itself is overloaded. I have my plan book in there. I like the really cute, thick spiral notebook kind that has all the bells and whistles and stickers and pockets. There’s a pencil bag full of writing tools too. A stack of papers that need to be graded is stuffed along the sides. They might go on an extended ride in the bag for a few days before I can finally sit down to grade them at home. The current novel or picture book that I’m planning on reading to my class is wedged somewhere in between papers and other items.
Of course, in addition, I need my personal purse with my wallet, phone, sunglasses, and other necessities. So now we are talking about some bag inside another bag action happening. Sometimes there’s even an additional shopping bag in the mix that is full of classroom items that I just couldn’t help but buy because they were a good deal.
All of these items hang on my shoulders, forearms, wrists. The collection also includes my lunch bag and the drinking vessel that contains my caffeinated beverage of the day. Sometimes my laptop bag is hanging on for dear life on the tip of one of my fingers. The all important 40 oz Hydro Flask is also either crammed in the teacher bag or hanging on to a different finger, testing the limits of strength and flexibility. Heaven forbid I should become dehydrated during this awkward, imbalanced walk across the parking lot.
If I planned ahead properly, my teacher keys are already around my neck on a lanyard. If they’re not, I have to stop, drop, and dig. Walking up to the entrance of school is quite the production on most days. I’m lucky enough to have my daughter with me because she goes to school here too. Sometimes there’s a mini set of helping hands available for the small fee of a tiny sip of mommy’s iced coffee or energy drink. Oops.
Once again, a collection of stuff has added an extra challenge, and literally extra weight to one of my daily routines. It hardly seems fair to feel this flustered, as well as experience an ever so slight degree of physical pain before the school day officially begins.
When things get really out of hand, I bust out my rickety old plastic fold-up rolling cart. It’s hideous. My back and shoulders find some temporary relief. Then I have to end up spending additional morning minutes unloading the thing before the bell rings. My back is strained again. No carts or wagons for me, I just won’t do it. Driving up to my classroom to unload stuff and re-parking the car isn’t happening either.
So the big question is, what is actually really necessary to haul to school everyday? I’m not getting any younger, and 40 (*gasp) is around the corner in a couple of years. It would be nice to have a functioning neck and shoulders throughout the remainder of my career, and somewhat healthy posture. It’s not a goal of mine to end up naturally standing lopsided without even realizing it because my body is growing accustomed to being weighed down by bags. Can I possibly lighten the load and eliminate some items?
This school year, I’ll be exploring some new options and routines in an effort to be kind to my body, while also cutting down on the amount of stuff that I cart back and forth to school. Ideas that I’d like to explore:
- Ditch the actual physical plan book and do the work digitally (scary!!)
- Be more mindful when buying supplies or items for the classroom. Keep an updated inventory of what I already have.
- Manage time efficiently during contracted hours and take less work home (I hear the scoffs already)
- Spy on other teachers in the parking lot and find the ones who don’t carry much at all. Interrogate them and find out how they are able to roll up to school and not look like they’re about to take a week long trip somewhere.
Feel free to comment with some ideas or suggestions on how I can still work efficiently and carry less. Extra points if you’re a teacher!
Until then, I’m going to enjoy the next 16 days because it’s STILL SUMMER. Many props to my teacher friends and all the kiddos who have already started their year.
■ Elementary Educator for Equity & Cultural Responsibility
■ Collector of Small Moments & Thrifty Finds
■ Wife & Mother
■ Bay Area, CA