Monday, July 14, 2008

Food for thought

Growing up, every year on the evening of the last day of school, I would have a dream that it was the first day of school, causing me to wake up in a panic. This year, it's taken a few weeks, but dreams about school have started up in earnest. So far I've dreamt that I have to teach eighth grade algebra and that my schedule has changed to include not one grade but three. All of my teacher dreams have been mixed with student dreams in which I'm trying to get to class but something is preventing me from arriving on time. Last night I had two of these dreams in quick succession: It was the first day of school and I was attempting to track down my students, only then suddenly it was my first day of class and I was horribly late.

Anyway, while on vacation last week I met up with a friend of mine from graduate school who now teaches at a private school in a wealthy suburb. She teaches for only two and a half hours a day, so the rest of her day is free for planning and grading, which means she never takes work home with her. She has no more than fifteen students in each class. She has an office with a computer provided to her by her school, which also paid for her to fly cross-country to national educator conferences. Her last day of school was at the beginning of June and she doesn't go back until after Labor Day, which means she gets a full three months off. And, most jaw-dropping of all, there is a chef at her school who cooks a delicious lunch for the staff every day!

And to think, the teachers at my school are practically foaming at the mouth when we get a bagel breakfast twice a year. I was nearly salivating just listening to her describe those working conditions. When I told her that I'd had 420 students on my roster this past year, she exclaimed, "That's a school, Miss Brave! You were in charge of a whole school!" At one point, I inquired as to whether her school had a security guard; in response, she laughed at me.

Practical acquaintances have pointed out that she probably earns less than I do, but I think you could make the case that her job makes up for that in preferable working conditions. (A chef?!) Just something to think about.

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