Monday, September 22, 2008

Easel of doom

Last year, I served 19 classes on all four floors of our school plus the annex one block away. Somehow I did all this without any kind of mobile classroom device whatsoever. I just loaded up an extra large Carol School Supply bag and a smaller tote and dumped all my supplies into them, carrying around all my charts, papers, markers, pencils, rewards, stickers, books and junk from place to place. I never requested a cart because (1) I didn't have an elevator key anyway, so therefore I had no way of moving my hypothetical cart between floors; (2) I wouldn't have been able to roll my hypothetical cart down the block to the annex, where five of my classes were located and (3) I figured I wouldn't get one anyway.

This year, though, things were going to be different. I was going to get my very own easel on wheels.

I had big plans for my easel on wheels. I bought two behavior pocket charts to hang on one side of my easel on wheels, with enough pockets for each of my students. I bought tickets to give out to students for good behavior, and envelopes to deposit the tickets in (when you earn a ticket, you put it in your class envelope, and every Friday I pull a ticket and the lucky winner earns a special reward!). I bought a little magnetic pencil holder for the other side of my easel on wheels, labeled it "Miss Brave's Supplies," and loaded it up with dry erase markers, regular old markers, and pencils that say "Teacher's Pencil -- Return to Teacher" on them. In the first few days of school, when I was still doing running records and not conducting mini lessons, I merrily spent every minute lovingly fixing up my easel on wheels. Everyone who passed us by in the hallways complimented me on my hyper-organization and cuteness.

At last, everything I needed would be on my easel on wheels. I would never show up to a classroom without vital supplies again!

I didn't count on one tiny but inevitable misstep: Naturally, my easel on wheels has a broken wheel.

I first discovered the sad truth about my easel on wheels on the first day of school, when I noticed that the easel I had inherited from my predecessor was missing a wheel. One of my APs tried to rectify the situation by strapping the broken wheel back on. So for a few days, my easel on wheels had one wheel that didn't roll, which I figured was fine as long as the easel stayed intact and could be moved from place to place. That is, until I actually started trying to move the easel on wheels from place to place. Because when I try to move the easel on wheels from place to place, the wheel falls off. A lot. In inopportune places like the elevator (and did I mention that the elevator doors have no sensor, so that they slam shut directly on my easel as I'm trying to drag it in and out?). Frequently I am wheeling my easel on wheels down the hall (and in my case, "wheeling" looks a lot more like "dragging a heavy object that seems to have a mind of its own"), trying to avoid hitting groups of children with it, when the wheel falls off. Usually when this happens, a child in the hall will pick up the wheel, run after me with it, and shout something like, "Miss Brave, you forgot your wheel!" As if I just happened to misplace the wheel and tried to leave without it.

My easel on wheels is huge and unwieldy. It seems to have the exact same dimensions as our classroom doorways, so wheeling it in and out of classrooms is kind of like those 007 scenarios where you have to fit through the laser beams without setting off the sensor. My easel on wheels is also much taller and broader than I am, so that I can't see around it. I like to tell my colleagues that I need sideview mirrors if I am to avoid hitting someone in the hallways (also because my easel on wheels doesn't wheel too well, it tends to veer off without my direction). Today, I was mortified when my AP came to visit a classroom and had to squeeze herself past my easel, which was taking up the entire doorway. (She did compliment me on my tickets, though.)

I have discovered that the most effective way to wheel my easel on wheels is to pull it along while walking backwards, which is not exactly my ideal way to traverse the halls. As I was doing this today, getting my usual cardio/strength workout, a teacher commented that it was a shame that the easels on wheels keep breaking (mine is not the only one), because they had been purchased from Lakeshore and were allegedly high quality and expensive.

I had never before considered how much my easel on wheels might have cost, and so this evening when my fiance suggested that I might bite the bullet and bring in my own easel, I decided to look it up. Sure enough, my easel on wheels is an "All Purpose Mobile Teaching Easel" that Lakeshore claims you can "roll anywhere!" (Although apparently not onto elevators with doors of death. Or into classrooms. Or down school hallways.) And it costs (drumroll please)...$299!

Holy expensive school supplies, Batman. It looks like my broken easel on wheels and I will have to learn to get along.


Ms. M said...

I think you should put that post on Donors Choose. The story is so sad you'll surely get a new one in no time.

mcaitlin said...

crazy glue?

Ms. Peace said...

I was complaining to administration about my nasty rug a few days ago and they started blaming Lakeshore. Apparently Lakeshore manufactures educational furniture built to last only 2-3 years which is funny since I think my bookshelves (which are splintered) are at least 15 years old, my white board easel (which is cracked and missing its magnetic shelf which somebody stole) is around 7 years old, and my rug is at least 7 as well. I know this stuff is expensive. I think rugs are around $500, but we NEED them. We do. And the kids DESERVE it!!! Good luck!

Jules said...

this is a very sad and frustrating story, but it is also really funny--it's always fun to read your posts. Glad to know you did finally get a new easel on wheels that will hopefully make your teaching life a little less of a hassle.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to replace the wheels with a furniture grade wheels or ones used in a kitchen? Those are pretty sturdy. Of course, then the legs would probably break.