What Teachers' Lounge?

Primary school teacher working at crowded desk in cramped office
Primary school teacher working at crowded desk in cramped office

A few days ago, Governor Kasich of the great state of Ohio (Toledo proud right here! Born and raised) opened his misinformed mouth and let the world know that if he were king he wouldn't allow teachers' lounges anymore. Apparently, we teachers use teachers' lounges to "sit together and worry about how 'woe is us.'"

BAHAHAHAHAHA! I saw this and almost peed I was laughing so hard. Seriously.

In what world do the teachers' lounges get used at all? While I am at it, I will stop using the mimeograph to make worksheets and stop using my laser disc player to show video. I seriously think the last time the teachers' lounge was regularly used at any school in the United States of America was in 1973 when you could light up a camel light and drink your Tab in peace.

2015-08-24-1440435178-3002592-smokingteacher.jpg
Last known teacher smoking in lounge.

Since recess doesn't exist anymore, and never has for high school students, and since lunch has shrunk in the hopes that tacking on three extra minutes to every academic period will sky rocket us past the Chinese in test-taking abilities and we can once again prove American exceptionalism in a way that matters actually very little to the future of our country, no one uses the teachers lounge anymore.

Ain't no teacher got time for that!

Seriously, the teachers' lounge? Has this man even stepped foot into a school since he was not allowed in the teachers' lounge because he was a student? In an official poll (i.e., I asked all my teacher friends on Facebook), I discovered that no teacher on the planet has more than 30 minutes for lunch. Most have between 22 and 27 minutes to execute all lunch time activities.

Abby, what do you mean all lunch time activities? What else could a teacher need to do during their luxurious 27 minute lunch where they sit in the teachers' lounge and use dated phrases like "woe is me"?

Well, for starters, pee.

Turns out, you can't just leave 35 ninth graders in a room by themselves for three minutes while you sprint to the nearest restroom, relieve yourself at record setting pace (thank you, two older sisters and one bathroom for giving me the necessary skills to teach in the public schools) and sprint back to your room.

Turns out, they may not quietly do their work, they may start arm wrestling, or throwing paper, or smacking each other because freshmen boys are at a special age when, like puppies, they don't always remember the lessons you have taught them about sitting and staying, and they severely underestimate their own strength. They are also perpetually hungry and sometimes smell bad, but God designed them to be so adorable you will love them anyway. But I digress.

There are a lot of things that need to get done during lunch that have nothing to do with eating.

Sometimes you have to make 10 extra copies during lunch because ten kids lost their paper, or give a kid a make-up quiz, or give the kid the extra time they need on an assignment, or give a kid some extra tutoring, or give a kid the being a teenager is really hard but it gets better pep talk you have perfected.

Sometimes, during research paper season, you eat with your left hand while furiously grading with your right because 35 kids times five periods means you have approximately 70 million hours worth of grading to complete and your own children have stopped recognizing you without a red pen in your hand and a crazed look in your eye.

Sometimes, during lunch, you answer emails because, if you are lucky, all 35 kids have a parent who wants to occasionally check-up on them and the best time to answer emails is during lunch. It is hard to answer emails during class because surpise! you are actually teaching.

Most often, during the beginning of the year, you will find a teacher during lunch running reconnaissance on her students. This kid has a poor grasp of English, better go check with the ESOL teachers. This student seems angry or distant, better go check with the social worker. This student may not be on track for graduation, better go check with the counselors.

I have worked at three different schools, with very different populations, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that the only place that is consistently not being used by the teachers, is the teachers' lounge.

Go ahead, good sir! Get rid of the teachers' lounge. We probably won't even notice. We are too busy doing our job.

Governor Kasich thinks the problem with teachers is the teachers' lounge. The problem with teachers is this: We are having to deal with laws that are being passed by people who have not one single clue as to what our job entails or how we do it.

But if you want to get rid of what you clearly think is copious amounts of complaining, and a sense of dread when it comes to the state of education, may I suggest actually understanding what teachers do, listening to us when we say something isn't working, and having half an understanding how a child's brain works before you pass some ridiculous law that holds me accountable for the brain function of a 15-year-old boy? No one knows what is going on in there. No one. But thanks to legislation, I am responsible for it.

So, good governor of the great state of Ohio, if you would like to hear about teaching and why the teachers in this country are nervous about the state of their jobs, I would be happy to schedule a lunch meeting with you. In May, when the kids are gone and I have time to eat lunch like a person again. We can even meet in the teachers' lounge. I am sure no one else is using it.

A version of this post originally appeared on AccidentalDevotional.

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