I’ve seen a lot in the fifty-four years I’ve been on the planet. Twenty-three of these years have been spent working inside an elementary school.
Many of the things I’ve witnessed, the real-life happenings of my life, have occurred inside the sturdy, brick walls of our school, a stoic building that sits on top of a small hill on a beautiful, tree-lined street in suburban New Jersey.
Some of my tales from school would not be considered polite dinner conversation. It wouldn’t be politically correct to air any of the disheartening, discouraging, and at times quite dirty laundry of life at school. Let’s suffice it to say that a lot goes on behind the doors of that mysterious Teachers’ Room.
But when I think of sharing these stories out loud, in public, fear turns up the volume and warns me, “Don’t put this out there.” Fear tells me I’ll be breaking some kind of educators version of the Blue Wall of Silence, some pedagogic partition that’s been put in place to preserve the sanctity of teaching. Fear tells me not to speak up.
My story also involves other people’s private, personal stories, the specific circumstances of other people’s lives, including those of my own family members. There is plenty of life going on outside of school, But whose stories are mine to share? That’s a question I’ll need to ask myself every time I sit down to write.
So many stories. So many moments of glowing hope. So many wrenching hours of deep heartache. Too many to ever write down in one lifetime.
Behind the Doors is just bits and pieces of one teacher’s story.
When people find out that I’m a teacher, they are always quite curious. It seems everyone I meet has a “teacher story” to tell. Some are funny. Some are inspiring. Some are just plain horrifying. After sharing a quip or two with them from behind the doors of my classroom, they often shake their heads and say something along the lines of, “I seriously don’t know how you do it.”
Some days, I don’t either. But most days, I just smile…because I love being a teacher.
Welcome behind the door.