Before we get back to the “action,” I’d like to fill in a few details. Mrs. M had a couple of questions about the duty day and kid supervision.

Our official duty day runs from 7:50 – 3:30. (I think; I haven’t looked at the latest contract.) The kids’ day runs from 8:20 – 2:59. (I know! 2:59!) We all get 35 minutes for lunch (new this year–up from 30) and 10 minutes for break in the morning. The kids have six periods–we teach five– of 54 minutes each and five minute passing periods. First period is 10 minutes longer, and the extra 10 minutes is called “Home Base.” It’s where we do The Scream, the flag salute, listen to meaningless announcements and “share.” I mean bond. Yeah, that’s it.

(Aside. Back in the day, the day was a little longer, the kids took seven classes with two electives, and we taught five. Talk about easy money. It was a beautiful thing. AND the kids had two electives. In those days we had five sections of drama, five sections of band and five sections of choir, in addition to our elective wheel with art, computers, French (yes, we actually had a French teacher), Spanish, and two kinds of shop (metal and wood). We even had a little school “farm” with vegetables, a goat and some chickens. Now we have one 1/4 length drama section taught by one of the pe teachers, two sections of band and one of choir. The garden is a weedy mess surrounded by chain link. arrrgh.)

Of course our staff runs the gamut as far as actual showing-up/leaving times. I like to work in the morning and my skate jones starts to hit about 3:00, so I usually arrive by 6:00, and I am the wind by 3:10. Yes, that’s 6 am. Before 7:00, there’s usually me and two others. Most of the staff shows up about 8:00. Most of them are still there at 3:30. Or so I’m told. I try to schedule all my parent meetings before school.

Duty-wise we take turns, a week at a time, doing one of three gigs: “supervising” in the quads and out back for the last 10 minutes before the morning bell rings, riding herd on same at break (also 10 minutes), or the dreaded bus-loading duty (20 minutes–more on that later). Our contract stipulates a duty-free lunch, but you know some people; they just like to give and give and let the kids come in and finish work or do detention. Me? I like to eat lunch. My detentions are always at break; one of the key socialization windows for the junior high species, and thusly one of the most painful for them to lose.

Principals are allowed to have two faculty meetings per month, have to hold at least one, and we have to go to any that are called. Theoretically they aren’t supposed to go past 4:30, but I’ve heard tell that they’ve gone as late as 5:15-5:30. I wouldn’t know. I leave at 4:30 or as soon as I hear the principal say, “I guess that’s–” Whooosh. Whichever comes first. I must admit that we haven’t hit 4:30 in quite a while. These days, 4:10 is about the norm.

I think the two meeting allowance is mostly so the principals can cancel one and make us like them. The reality is we probably really only need one every other month, so they could cancel three quarters of them and we’d really like them.

The only supervision of the kids after school is during bus loading. We are the only public junior high in town (45,000 people), so it’s quite a war zone out there at three o’clock. There’s a traffic jam and six or eight buses arriving and kids riding bikes on the sidewalk and lots of general milling around. The kids who walk/ride bikes are supposed to leave immediately (ha), and the ones waiting for rides are supposed to stand away from the bus loop kids. (ha ha) It’s chaos, and a nightmare to supervise. But it does get you out of the faculty meeting. When I first started here, a wily, old veteran used to “sell off” his duty days/hours. He’d post a note in the lounge saying, “I have bus duty next week. I am offering $15 to whomever takes it for me,” or, “I am offering $20 for dance duty next month.”

Woah.  Going on 750 words, and I still haven’t gotten back to the meeting. I guess you could call this a metaphor for the way our faculty meetings usually go. More manana.