Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Last Thursday I had the opportunity to return to my old school...the one where I started my career nine years ago. Actually, I was in the very classroom that I once taught third grade in. I happened to be there with my current principal, who was there at the school with me, and a colleague that had been there too. The three of us couldn't help but reminisce about the "good old days".

Maybe it is because I am getting older....maybe it's because I have been teaching for nine years and despite the fact that I love my job, nine years of anything will make you look at things a little differently.....maybe it is because my "new" school is so completely different- in appearance and feel....but a part of me longed for the days when I taught in this "old" school.

It was built a long time ago- late 60's I believe. Like most buildings built then it is heavy and ponderous; made of institutional brick and built, without apology, to withstand anything. It is not fancy in any way, it is built in a simple rectangle, with a courtyard in the middle. The classrooms are bigger than the ones that I currently teach in, and since I left, have all been painted in light blues or yellows. The classrooms are right next to each other, and right across too, and lockers line the hallways. Artwork is everywhere and you can tell that there is a community. It is a school, and meant to be a school.

My current building, although beautiful, is impractical in the extreme. It is built to look more like an office building; all sweeping lines and curving walls. Floor to ceiling glass, which sounds really nice but has made it rather difficult to control the heat, and leaves the building feeling (and looking) rather cold. Teachers clearly weren't consulted when they designed the building either because there are any number of things that any one of us would change in a heartbeat. Starting with a desk that must sit in the front of the room for computer access and continuing with a small classroom made smaller by the huge cubbies that have to go into each classroom because the hallways were designed to barely fit two classes passing through, let alone lockers for the students. It is a beautiful building, to be sure, and there are architectural awards to prove it, but it doesn't feel like a school. And it is an effort to make it look like one.

So, I sat in this classroom, my old classroom, and was nostalgic. Not only for the physical space that I so dearly miss, but also for the staff members that used to work there. I remember how we'd all stand out in our halls in the morning as the kids came in and, because we were so close, be able to talk to one another easily. I remember my colleague (who is now a principal in the district) that worked across the hall, shouting out to me from his desk in his classroom, and being able to respond. I remember feeling...like I belonged to a school community. Not that I don't feel that now but it is different. I can go days without seeing teammates if I want. I can also go weeks without seeing some of my colleagues that work downstairs, or in another wing of my building. It is harder, requires more effort, to get that same community feeling.....we have to work for it now and before, it just happened because we were all so close.

I drove away thinking that as much as I love my school now, and the people I work with and the reputation I know I have built with families in my area.....I wouldn't mind going back to my "old" school.


Keetha said...

What a well-done post. You articulated so well what you miss.

Kelli said...

Reading this post, I couldn't help but picture the school I spent 3rd & 4th grade in myself. It sounds so much like how you describe your old school...built with no intentions other then to be a school, it was so cozy and comfortable...I can picture walking down those hallways as an 8 and 9 year old clear as yesterday.

Nice writing, Lisa.