Pahnila_Outhouse_Simo_20090630I had to go to the bathroom. I also had to finish doing something for a student, reading assignments, and planning. It didn’t help I was on my one millionth cup of coffee.  The situation was getting dire. I got out of my seat, grabbed my keys, and headed for the–

Fire drill. We’re due for one a month plus there are lockdown and evacuation drills that could happen at any time but are mostly guaranteed if I really have to the bathroom.

“PLEASE don’t be the evacuation drill…” It was my prayer to whichever god controls bathrooms and safety drills. If it was the long evacuation drill, I wouldn’t be the only thing evacuating.

Teachers are pretty good about “holding it” and the speed pee. Nothing aggravates me more than waiting in line for a bathroom having the person in front of me take five minutes. This is a problem caused by old people and non teachers in the real world, and students texting in the lav stalls.

Teachers can use the lav in thirty seconds or less. Believe it or not, it’s part of the certification process. Two proctors stand outside a fake classroom door after staging a three-hour faux faculty meeting at which all prospective teachers consume extra-large coffees. If candidates can’t leave their seats, pee, and be back standing in front of the “classroom” door five miles away in under a minute, it’s best they find another career path before they get in too deep. It’s education’s equivalent of the fireman’s dead man’s carry–a skill you definitely need for the job.

“Why don’t you go between classes?” you might ask. Well, if you’re an elementary teacher, there is no “between classes.” You get them all day, and you have to watch them because they scatter. If you’re a high school teacher, may be supervising the hallway between classes or you just want to smile at students and welcome them as they walk in. And “between classes” is when everyone has to try the “why’s my grade a negative ten” conversation.

I was reading some articles about Teacher Appreciation Week. First off, thank you. Second, there were some great suggestions for celebrating the week and giving teachers one or two things to show gratitude. Some were thoughtful, others had wonderful sentiments behind them, but might not have been designed by teachers. I really don’t want someone to cover my class so I can take my kid to the doctor or get my car washed. I also don’t need a special parking space or a salon person to come do my nails–trust me, it’s going to take a few more Cosmo makeovers to do anything about my fashion.

I wouldn’t mind a bathroom in my room or someone to cover my class for a moment so I can find one fully stocked with toilet paper and soap. The only thing most teachers want is to make that journey in peace. If you can’t move the lav so I can use it when the call of nature shouts, that’s okay, I have a second token of appreciation in mind. Find a way for me to actually eat my lunch rather than leaving it on my desk while I work. I’m starting to attract fruit flies and get pretty hungry by the end of the day.

Other than that, thank you for all the well wishes to those of you who celebrate, and to those of you who bash, I hope we don’t mess up your kids too much. Just tell me what to do to make sure he gets into Harvard and I’ll get the job done. You can thank me in a couple of years when the bill arrives.

Oh, yeah, and to the mom who came in and put candy in the faculty lounge–you rock!


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