Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers
Have you ever had a teacher across the hall like Mardi?
Let me paint a scene for you. Mardi at her desk, grading papers, checking things off of her to-do list one by one. The rest of our team is there too, chatting away. Sure we’d talk about things that needed to be talked about, but then we’d stay there chatting, Mardi would chat too – but while getting work done.
“Hey!” We’d say every so often. “How is this fair? You’re getting all your work done!”
“You guys came here.” She’d shrug, smile, and check something else off of her to-do list.
Mardi used her planning period exactly the way we were supposed to use planning periods. She’d grade and plan and get kids set up for success. It was maddening really. I mean, how dare someone be so good at all the things?
One of the last years we taught together, Mardi had a planning period right while I taught Social Studies. It was right after lunch if I am remembering correctly.
At some point, I noticed a pattern. My kids would be settling down, I’d be passing something out, or I might even be starting my lesson. That’s when I’d notice Mardi. She’d be walking around my room, holding a post-it with kids’ names on it, kids with late math work. She’d walk around, telling those kids that they needed to finish that work at the end of the day instead of going to their last choice period. Sometimes she wasn’t quite as quiet, interrupting the start of my lesson, telling kids in no uncertain terms that they would need to get the work to her.
(Mardi always knew who owed late work, like 30 seconds after it was due. She probably knew the night before she assigned it, honestly.)
The first few times I noticed her in my Social Studies class, I probably just ignored her and got to the business of teaching. After I noticed a pattern, I think I most likely smiled at her and raised my eyebrows. Once I realized it was happening often, I started to welcome her with open arms as soon as I saw her. “Good afternoon, Ms. McDonough!” I’d cry with glee. “Welcome!” We’d laugh, and I’d not so secretly be jealous of her organizational and time management skills. I’ve always wished I could be like that, but alas I haven’t gotten there yet.
Then one day I realized that I had a planning period while she taught Science. So I grabbed my orange megaphone and marched across the hall. Revenge!
“Alert! Alert!” I said into my megaphone as I walked into her classroom. “This is an interruption. I repeat. This is an interruption.”
I might have scared a kid or two, but Mardi paused her lesson and we both laughed. I took a blurry selfie, which I will always cherish, and I left.
What I wouldn’t give to teach across the hall from Mardi again.