Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For...

Tonight was the night! Parent-Teacher Conferences. Everyone wants to put their best foot forward. For teachers, that usually means pulling out the "conference clothes", shoving piles of papers into available closets and sprucing up the 'ol bulletin boards. Yes, friends, we put on a good show.

We learn by example, I guess, because the administration lays it on pretty thick. Serious dog and pony show. I mean, if they could flame dancers, I think they just might jump on it. Can you imagine, flame dancers on every stairwell lighting the way to your child's teacher?

Part of the show includes making sure that our building is absolutely spotless. Spotless! Hallways are waxed, and bathrooms are scrubbed. Teachers do their part too...you know, with all the pile shoving? (We do love our piles.) However, there is one aspect of this Grand Clean Sweep that remains a volatile battleground.

The classroom carpet. (Insert "Debbie Downer" music here.)

Now, the custodial staff (many of whom I do love very much...I mean, they clean puke for us) adamently maintains that it is not their responsibility to clean the carpets. To me, this does defy a bit of logic on several levels. 1) Only custodial staff has access to the closets in which the precious vacuums are housed. 2) They sweep our floors, and come within mere inches of the carpet. 3) Do we really want to get into being asked to do things that are not in our job descriptions....cuz, um, I might have one or two things to add to that list.

Usually, this battle ends with children spending weeks sitting on a living science experiment. Eventually, I will break down and beg, borrow and steal a vaccuum from a fellow colleague. Oh, right, and maybe this is where I should mention that my colleague (you know, the one I borrowed the vaccuum from?) BOUGHT the vaccuum with her own money because she couldn't stand her dirty carpet a moment longer. Call me crazy, but I'm fairly certain that purchasing a vaccuum isn't in her contract. She just happens to be a super rock star.

Yesterday, I went to my Super Rock Star colleague and asked to borrow her vacuum. And that's when she told me...

It

is

broken.

Damn! Now the parents are going to see my filthy carpet and, despite all my efforts teaching their child to, oh, you know, read and write, they're going to blame ME for having a dirty rug. Hey, teachers are easy targets.

In a final act of desperation, several teachers went to our principal and asked if it was at all possible for the custodial staff to release the precious vaccuums from their locked closets and make them available to us.

Because God forbid, we come out and actually ask someone else to work as hard as we do!

But, surprise of surprises, our principal says that he will ask the custodial staff to pop around and vaccuum our rugs for us, since we have so much going on. And they did...they did vaccuum...which I do appreciate...I just wish it wasn't during Writer's Workshop.

And so, when that moment of quiet, when I looked around and see all twenty of my little friends were dilligently writing away, filling me with a sense of pride was hideously interrupted with the incessant noise of a vacuum cleaner, I realized....it's just easier to do it my freaking self.

16 comments:

A Science Teacher said...

Reading your blog makes me love my teaching job! I shake my head every single time!

ChiTown Girl said...

Ok, why do they have vacuum cleaners if they don't vacuum the carpets?! Sounds just like the Hell-Hole where I work. I just bought myself a carpet sweeper (only $12 at Big Lots) so my kids can fight over who gets to clean the carpet every day!

AverageMom said...

We have PT interviews in central locations, like the cafeteria and library. So, when I sat down at my designated table in the library this last go around, I should not have been surprised to find a giant ladder next to my table. That way Property Management could change the lightbulbs over my table. While I was giving interviews.

Angela said...

In my district, custodians are supposed to vacuum every day. It actually happens about once a week, but I guess I should count my blessings. (They do shampoo the rugs a twice a year, too--wow!) I'm amazed that your admin doesn't require your custodians to vacuum. What do they expect to happen to the carpets? Or they really don't care at all?

And to AverageMom? Your story takes the cake. I can only imagine how that looked...ROFLOL

Cierra said...

That is horrible. I can't believe they have vacuums locked up that they refuse to use or allow you to use. I'm so glad they finally vacuumed for you once for conferences. I am an Auburn University student about to graduate in Elementary Education. You have inspired me for what I have to look forward to.

DishClothGal said...

At my school, the parents, not the carpets, are the living science experiments. We have a ton of parents that generally bring one of two thoughts to your head:
1) How has this person survived to adulthood?
2) Oh...that explains Johnny.
Sometimes you think both.

Jennifer said...

Boy, I hate to brag but custodial staff at my school vacuums everyday. In addition to that they empty all the trash cans, put liners in the cans, dust and even emtpy the pencil sharpener. I LOVE them!

When the floors are really messy and it's clear that the kids have just been slobs, Jesse will come in and bawl them out. He has them all pick up the floor before they leave for the day. Love him!!!

Dish Cloth Gal--the parents are the exact same way at my school. I'm amazed everyday.

Emily said...

Well at least it got vacuumed. I am having to vacuum myself this year for the first time ever and it is quite awful. I am going to buy a little push vacuum for the days that I can't get around to it. I'll assign it as a job. But, I too have to borrow a vacuum from a rock star coworker.

Mary Louise Brooks said...

A couple of years ago, our custodial staff told us that there would be no carpets or rugs in any of the rooms. Over the summer, my rug mysteriously disappeared. Not mine money, so I didn't care. Also, all of the carpets were removed from all of the rooms. This left teachers in a fix. Where do 30 students sit during read-aloud? Yes, you read correctly. Thirty students. This year I noticed that my assigned custodial person doesn't sweep in my room because (and I quote), "You don't have that many kids." True but at one time. I take groups of 10 for 5 periods per day. Do the math. I got tired of sweeping and with time being so tight, I didn't want to assign students to do it. I solved the problem. I went to Target and got an indoor/outdoor rug! It's great because it's large, sits all of the kids at once, and you can also hose it down before storing it in the garage. I'm locking that baby up even during the breaks because that's when they wax the floors.

The Uninspired Cook said...

I'm more passive-aggressive, I think. When the custodian was sweeping my room and blatantly ignoring my carpet, I'd just walk over to it, grab one side, and give it a good flip to fling all the debris from it into the path of their broom, while smiling sweetly the whole time, as if there weren't a thing wrong.

Mary Louise Brooks said...

Uninspired,
Good tip! I think I will start doing that. I've been sweeping my room and making a pile in the hallway in front of the custodial supply room. Not a stretch because it's right next-door to my room. But I love the idea of shaking out my rug in the hallway. Thanks for the tip!
MLB

Cathy said...

Is it possible that you work in the same school as I? My friend that I carpool with and I had a great laugh over this! She even left a dead bug once on the tile to see how many days it took before it was actually cleaned up.

I try not to think about how dirty our carpet it is as I sit on it throughout the day during my conferences for reading and writing...

I know that beyond all of the crap that is thrown your way that you are doing great things for your friends and giving those of us who don't get as many thank yous as we should a great laugh...thanks!!!

BTW, when did you schedule the weekend conference?

Carah said...

"I'll do it myself!" Said the little red hen. And she did.

C Davis said...

Hey, I am a custodian and all I can say about your blog is...Hey!

If you think that I decide what I do and when I do it, you are mistaken. I simply follow a schedule written by higher-ups. Clearly, it is not my fault that they keep adding rooms/buildings, students and staff and not one more custodian. This year, I vacuum three nights a week, but if you think that is for MY benefit...wrong again. I end up with more than twice as much mess and of course no more time to clean it.
And as for those "special days", I can count on several hours of additional tasks but again no more help. To make matters worse, some teachers think I should be able to complete my usual eight hours of work in the three hours before parents and then magically do it all again after they have left. Argh!

Also, I would be more than willing to lend my vacuum (purchased with my own money)to anyone if I were not constantly using it myself. Hm, what do they say about an ounce of prevention?

But still, I try. I only draw the line when it comes to cleaning teachers' personal items, which we all know can equal the amount of stuff in a small house with garage, and may include an area rug or two or three.
(By drawing the line, I mean I grumble to myself and clean it anyway.)

Would you?

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