A Teacher’s View

Having heard, over the years, a number of student’s views of Covenant, I decided that it is time to give a teacher’s eye view of a day at Covenant.

It is about 6:00 A.M. The alarm on my digital clock rings and I grope for the button which allows me an extra nine minutes of snooze time. Sometimes it becomes impatient and rings after six minutes. Note that in each case the number of minutes is a multiple of three. Although I may appear, at this point, to be in an unconscious state, my mind is alive and active, making important decisions. A teacher must make many important decisions during the course of a day. My first decision must be made when the alarm goes off. Should I leap out of bed and be the first in the bathroom and enjoy the luxury of shaving with hot lather?…or should I lie here awhile and relax, and get used to the idea that a new day has dawned? I make my decision instantly and slip back into a semiconscious state. This may seem to be the lazy way out, but it isn’t at all, for my mind is hard at work calculating the amount of hot water being used so that I can make my move at the precise moment which will allow me to catch the last gallon of hot water for my morning shave.

Eventually I make my way to school. I stroll into the faculty lounge and heard the usual wisecracks about looking like Colonel Klink, or Dick Tracy in my new top coat. But I don’t have to listen to them for long, for this morning I have hall duty.

It seems that it has become necessary in the last couple of years to have a teacher in the hall during faculty devotions. It is during this time that a certain number of our young people choose to do damage to the school, and to each other, and make a general nuisance of themselves. Besides being childish, these kinds of actions show a general lack of spiritual sensitivity. This is not a pleasant aspect of hall duty, but there are compensations. It gives me a chance to greet and visit with students on an informal basis before classes begin.

I stroll down the hall, cup of coffee in hand. “Hello, how are you?…Good, I’m glad to hear that, I’m quite well also, thank you…Do I belong to the German Army? Not that I know of. As a matter of fact, I want you to know that this coat is very much in style – at least that is what my wife tells me.” I hear a banging on a locker. I quickly locate the locker and open it. A small boy steps out looking as though nothing unusual had happened. Should I pursue this matter? I conclude that he is probably rather shy and that he prefers to spend his time standing around in his locker. By this time I have taken up my post near the boy’s restroom.

It seems that we have a club made up of boys who meet each morning in the restroom. It strikes me that this is not the most wonderful meeting place in the world, so I tell them to meet somewhere else. They agree and leave. Later as I head down the hall toward the other end of school, I notice that they are calling their meeting to order in the area of the trophy case.

I am not the only one with hall duty this morning. Down at the end of the hall I see a boy standing guard. It is his duty to warn the smokers lest they get caught breaking the non-smoking rule. The concern of these students is not that they are breaking a rule, but rather that they might get caught breaking a rule.

The bell rings and all head for their various classes – everyone except me. I head for the faculty lounge, for I have a free period first hour. During this period, I finish my preparations for the day. This is usually a quiet and uneventful period of the day for me – a time when I can enjoy a few moments of peace and solitude before beginning the day’s struggle.

The bell signals the beginning of the second period. I stroll into my second hour class (statistics) and check around to see if everything is in order. Deb is grinning as if she has some mischief planned. Marilyn has a trace of a smile and an expression that seems to say, “I know something that you don’t.” Ken is just sitting. I’m not sure, but I think he is sleeping with his eyes open. I notice a note on the black board proclaiming some student’s opinion of his first hour class and school in general: “I hate school and expecsionally this class!” For the next few hours I help my students through the intricacies of statistics, physics, and geometry. I end the morning with devotions with my fourth hour class.

Since it is my day for hall duty, I grab a sandwich and a half cup of coffee and head down the hall toward the gym. Most of the students are in the gym, enjoying some recreation. A few students are in a classroom preparing for a test. Others are occupying themselves in less constructive ways. One group is playing a game. I don’t know if they have a name for this game; I shall call it teacher-baiting. These make a great show of look suspicious, hoping a teacher will pursue them, only to find them innocently chewing on candy cigarettes or some such thing. There are various ways one could view this kind of an activity. At the heart of it, I believe, that it is an act of disrespect. But I suppose one could be more charitable and consider it an innocent little game. Indeed, sometimes when I see how eager they are to have me join in their little game, I get caught up in the spirit of the thing and play my little part. There are rewards. The other day I got a candy cigarette.

The first period after lunch I have a study hall to supervise. This is a period during which there are many emergencies: phone calls which must be made (a life or death matter); towels which must be folded; feet which must be wrapped; cars which must be fixed. The list is endless. I do my best to help with each emergency and at the same time maintain an atmosphere conducive to study.

I finish my afternoon conducting a geometry and an algebra class, during which I give “spine tingling” presentations, leaving the students in a mood of eager anticipation for the next installments.

The students have left. I sit back and consider the day’s activities. I have mixed feelings of accomplishment, disappointments, and hope. I hope that we have grown together intellectually and spiritually. So often we failed. We missed the mark. By the grace of God, tomorrow we can do better.