So . . . I didn’t win the massive Powerball jackpot last night. Of course, considering I didn’t buy a ticket, it wasn’t a big surprise. However, all the hoopla surrounding the millions and millions of dollars made me daydream a bit. What if . . .?
There was a point in my career that I would’ve said I wouldn’t quit my job. And I really meant it. Now, though? I’d be out of there! I’d probably do the ethical thing and give a two-weeks’ notice. After all, I’m friends with several of my coworkers, and I’d hate to leave them to take on my responsibilities. So I’d give them two weeks and be done.
But as frustrated as I am with the education system right now, I do still love teaching, and I think schools and teachers and students deserve the best. So I starting thinking about what I could do for my school with all of that money at my disposal.
My first thought was computers. (And you know that popped into your head right away, too.) But not just any computers – those fancy tablet/laptop computers that can work with a keyboard, or with a pen, or as a touchscreen. They’re small, lightweight, and flexible. One for everyone–students, teachers, paras. Maybe one for school and one for home so they don’t have to be carried back and forth. And hotspots for everyone in case there’s no internet at home. That would be perfect, wonderful. Until a parent sold their kid’s computer. Or it was stolen or broken and parents insisted on a replacement. Or family members used it for inappropriate activities. Not to mention, now that I think about it, propping a computer in front of a kid doesn’t automatically teach them all they need to know. There’s something to be said for the smell of a book, the feel of putting pencil to paper, the accomplishment of creating a masterpiece with paint and brush. Besides, buying computers is kind of cliché, everyone wants to do it.
What would be something more unique? Something a school would have no chance of getting anywhere else. Something everyone would use. Then it dawned on me . . .
A complete building gut and remodel!
- First, all remodeling would occur over the summer when no students were present, not during teaching days. A mobile office would be provided for the administrators and secretaries who have to work those months, so they wouldn’t have to be in the school building with construction going on around them.
- All portables should be combined into permanent, under-roof classrooms. No random metal buildings dropped throughout the campus.
- All building would be connected by covered sidewalks, with attention paid to corners and inclines so there are no concerns for students in wheelchairs or with canes or walkers.
- Next, all walls, ceilings, and floors would be gutted. All mold and asbestos remediated.
- Then, all would be rebuilt. Roofs replaced. Insulation added. Windows in every room. Inside rooms provided with skylights or skytubes to provide natural light. Doors installed with window openings, handles that turn to the right and open without wiggling. All doors wired with the capability of opening automatically to provide access to students in wheelchairs or with canes or walkers.
- Air conditioning units would be installed that were the correct size to efficiently cool and heat the building. Each room would be able to control its own temperature, and no units would run so loudly that the teacher could not be heard.
- Now, inside. Drywall would be installed, covered with a washable finish in a neutral, non-hospital-reminiscent color. Tiled floors in a neutral color, not white (don’t you know how much dirt that shows?), and definitely no blocks of a different shade because you ran out of the correct color.
- Every room would get a bathroom and a cold water fountain. Closed storage, shelves, and cubbies in a neutral wood grain, not pink, salmon, light green, white, or any of the varied shades of blue. All computer hubs and equipment in closed, non-intrusive cabinets, not crookedly mounted sticking 24 inches out of a random spot on the wall.
- Fluorescent lights would be replaced with LED lighting designed to simulate daylight. Multiple electrical outlets would be mounted on every wall of the room.
- Finally, it would be furnished. Tables of the appropriate height for younger students. Desks for older students. Kidney or horseshoe tables for small group time. And make sure all the desks and tables have the same top finish. Again, I like the wood grain, but, please, let’s make it all the same shade of brown. And chairs—I actually like the plastic chairs we have at our school, but let’s not do yellow, orange, or maroon. Now is an okay time to bring in the navy. And maybe a matching navy rug for carpet time or just to deaden the sound when you have a tile floor. There are ball chairs and standing desks that some teachers swear by. Those would be a possibility
- Oh, yeah, and every room would have a teacher’s desk where all of the drawers open and the top doesn’t have grooves that mess up your writing. And a teacher chair that doesn’t slowly sink as you sit in it that fits under your desk when you try to push it in.
I think a physical environment like that would be dreamy!!! Can you imagine bringing kids into a new, clean-smelling, matching environment? Do you think it would make a difference with the students? What did I miss?