Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Bissell While You Work

"They are not 'your' classrooms!" an administrator once reminded a roomful of us teachers harshly. "They belong to the school system and you use them at our discretion."

My stomach wrenched at her bluntness, and a tiny spark of the burning idealism that carries most of us into teaching was extinguished forever along with any illusion of ownership I may have had over my workspace. Oh, I shook it off-- that was years ago, and whether it's technically my room or not, practically speaking it is definitely where the magic happens.

Even so, the fact is that my classroom is used for night classes and on weekends by a church group who rents the facility. In theory, these groups respect the work space, but in practice that is not always true and it is routine for me on any given morning to reset the room for my own classes, moving tables and chairs to the places where my students expect them. In addition there are times when things are missing (tissues, markers, chalk, etc.) and times when things are left behind (empty cups and bottles, papers, books, umbrellas, and even a dirty diaper once).

So I was hardly surprised when I found an unusual object leaning against my wall on Monday morning. Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant would have recognized it immediately-- it was an electrostatic carpet sweeper-- aka a "Bissell." Having swept under many a table in my time, I was impressed by how new this particular model was. In fact, it was not A Bissell at all, but rather a product of the Fuller brush company, a genuine Stanley Sweeper.

Any irritation at this abandoned item soon turned to interest. I gave it a tentative push and was pleased with the its action as it rolled smoothly across the rug picking up even the smallest specks and crumbs in its path. The potential of possessing such a device was immediately clear to me as I imagined all the stray hole punches and pencil shavings I could dispense with quite easily. This sweeper was a keeper!

And indeed it has proved to be so-- not just for me, but for my students and colleagues as well. Paper scraps? Food crumbs? Caked on dirt from recess? No problem! The rugs in our rooms have been pristine for the last three days. The satisfaction at cleaning up such messes so easily has led to arguments over whose turn it is to clean up. In fact, I just ordered one to keep at home, and a couple of other teachers have done so as well.

They may not be our rooms, but by God, those carpets are clean!

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