Yesterday was the first day back from spring break and, as usual, I was eager to get back into the classroom. I was rested refreshed and aware. So aware that I was in my classroom almost 25 minutes before I realized that a Smart board had been installed during the break, just as had been promised.
About an hour later I noticed the plastic envelope on my desk that held the software and other implements for the Smart board. Right about then I noticed something was missing: the projector needed to operate the Smart board. The principal called a minute later to tell me a computer and projector would arrive in my room later that day.
Today my principal visited my room, looked around and noticed, apparently for the first time, that there’s no desktop computer. My Read 180 program runs on five elderly laptops. The Smart board is at one end of the 30-foot-long room where one electric outlet is and the laptops are at the other end of the room where the computer network cable comes out of the wall and the other electric outlet is located.
As we stood there looking around the room the song “Alice’s Restaurant” started running through my mind. Not the whole song, but the part when the protagonist had been arrested for littering and the sheriff, Obie, had prepared “twenty-seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one” to be used as evidence against him. Then the judge came in with his seeing eye dog and Obie began to cry.
I had a brand new totally interactive white board on which we could make circles and arrows and write paragraphs and do all kind of wild and beautiful things and I could not use it because I don’t have the more pedestrian hardware necessary to make the board work. I felt like Obie.
Unfortunately, that was not the biggest frustration of the day.
I also found out that the 14-year-old boy who I had had very high hopes for but who had punched me last month got arrested for something and, because he was already on probation for mugging a man earlier in the year, would be locked up in a juvenile facility, most likely for the rest of the school year.
I stayed after school for almost three hours talking with a colleague trying to make some sense of my day. Now I’ve written this. It still feels empty.