There are a lot of things that college and the credential program and the “School of Hard Knocks” can never teach you.
“Trial by fire” is what they call it.
At my previous school, I was in charge of making my own copies.
Which, yes, sucked (because the copy machine was almost ALWAYS broken and I spent more time reading that little diagram on the front trying to find where exactly the paper jam was hidden…which turns out, there are one hundred and one places for a piece of paper to be hiding…than ACTUALLY making copies), but you just learn to deal.
And the BEST part of struggling to make the copier work and finally getting those perfect copies ready for your perfectly planned lesson…was when you got back to class and your students would draw pee-pees all over them or make them into paper airplanes or just plain lose them and you would think to yourself…why?
Because the scene from Office Space doesn’t REALLY make sense until you are forced to deal with the most evil of evils that is a copier. (Add about one hundred and fifty teenagers on top of it and you’ll get why teachers drink.)
So I’m at a different school this year. One that has an entire room dedicated to “duplicating” with a nice lady that is dedicated to making YOUR copies.
Sounds like Xanadu, right?
Imagine, if you will, the scene in Harry Potter when he visits Gringott’s and wants to visit his vault. There were a lot of rules in order for Harry (or any wizard) to get the items that were ALREADY his out of his vault. A lot of hoops to jump through.
Now multiply that by a thousand and you’ll understand what it’s like to get your copies made.
And you might be thinking, “Why don’t you just do it yourself?”
Great question, reader!
Because the machines that are dedicated to “DIY copying” are garbage. They are difficult to use and they definitely don’t have the bells and whistles that the machines in the duplicating dungeon have.
(Also, the previous year of copying/teaching failure has left me with some severe PTSD.)
So things were going fine and dandy until…the copying lady was out!
For several days.
And I had a large packet that needed to be ready the NEXT DAY!
(Granted, I did put in my request several days prior and though I am sure it is no one’s fault, when I went to pick up said request there were only fifteen copies made…instead of the one-hundred and twenty-five that I requested. Let’s chalk it up to human error, shall we?)
So I’m in the empty duplicating room and I have a choice to make…do I just take these fifteen copies and somehow turn that into a bogus lesson or do I pull a heist job and commandeer one of these super fancy copiers and make the necessary amount of copies so I don’t lose my mind the next day when only fifteen kids have a paper?
The choice was obvious.
So I’m making my illegal copies…sweating…tummy hurting…constantly looking over my shoulder…when the unthinkable happens…IT RUNS OUT OF PAPER!
Now, I was already nervous and couldn’t believe that I had come this far without getting caught, so I just take the copies I was able to make (enough for at least two of my classes) and bolt.
The next day, during my prep period, I sneak back into Mordor (aka the dark and empty duplicating room) to finish what I started.
Only this time…something was different.
Attached to the copier I was using yesterday was a note that read, “DO NOT USE!”
I began to panic. What do I do? Do I have time to convert everything online and have my students complete digitally? Do I just have them share a packet with their neighbor? Do I have them write their answers on a separate sheet of paper?
Then I metaphorically slapped myself across the face. Snap out of it, Johnson!
And I did something CRAZY!
Because the thing is…it’s a duplicating ROOM. There was more than one copy machine and more than one way to get the job done.
Now it was dark in there AND decorated for Halloween.
All around me were spiderwebs and skeletons and spooks and haunts that were staring down at me. (I told them to keep quiet if they knew what was good for them.)
As I walked back to one of the other fancy copiers, several decorations came to life, cackling wildly, and almost giving away my position! I about nearly jumped out of my skin as I finally made it to the copier and proceeded with the job I was determined to finish.
Sweat beaded my brow as my tummy churned, and I kept looking over my shoulder…just WAITING for someone to catch me.
I was nearly at the end. I could SEE the finish line…when all of a sudden…
I heard a voice.
I jumped three feet in the air, paper flying everywhere, when I turned around and saw a guy that works across the hall.
He was eating yogurt.
I looked him straight in the face and said, “You never saw me.”
He smiled gingerly, taking another bite of yogurt, “Saw what?”
And then turned around and walked away.
I was able to complete the lesson with the rest of my classes.
EVERYONE got their very own packet.
And when they all groaned and complained about how much they hated it and didn’t want to do it, I just smiled (as my right eye twitched wildly and visions of copy machines and baseball bats and the eye of Sauron floated around my brain).