Teaching at a school that’s barely two years old yields a plethora of obstacles of all kinds, from not having a computer or a printer or access to a copy machine to having to deal with a manual bell system, which is basically a matron running down to ring the bell at some time close to the end of the period, but often after it. Today, though, I had a minor – and brief – breakdown.
We arrived at the school – after passing a herd of sheep and some grazing cattle that have been brought in to be slaughtered next week for Eid – and I launched into a fabulous lesson with my 7th graders. We were talking about prejudice and I asked, “Who is the person who is different in this story? What do we call someone who is being blamed by everyone else for their problems? We talked about this yesterday.” Two students’ hands shot up and they eagerly leaned out of their chairs, excitement contorting their faces and causing them to nearly call out. One student slapped a hand over his mouth to prevent this from happening. Thrilled at the enthusiasm, I called on him, and he burst out, “Spacegoat!” Enthralled that he had the answer right also, the student in the back couldn’t contain himself anymore and shouted, “SPACEGOAT!” I finally indulged in some genuine laughter, shaking my head no, and listened as a determined student added, “It’s something goat.”
Afterwards, I prepared to ease myself into a relaxing rest of the day when suddenly I was cornered by a matron asking me to sub. I hate subbing – anywhere – because the kids are disrespectful usually and it’s hard to get a handle on a class that’s not your own. Here, subbing takes an even nastier twist, as most teachers don’t leave sub plans. A bit offput, I headed back to my office to get money to get a sandwich, since the sub period interfered with my lunch plans, and I was asked by my supervisor to sub the rest of her class so she could go to a meeting. Frustrated and hungry, I said yes, and ran down to the cafeteria to get a sandwich.
Here is where I almost snapped. The day before, I had purchased a large sandwich on a big fluffy roll. This time, they did not have bread, but hard and bland-looking bagels instead. Distraught, I said I’d take it and asked how much. The sandwich the day before was 10LE. For the dinky bagel, it would be 12. This is equivalent to $2, and I know it sounds cheap, but it was what did it for me. I angrily snatched up my money, said no, and stormed out. Seething, I vented my anger in a post-it letter to Susannah, who had also been cornered to sub.
After my subbing was done, I hungrily chomped on some cheap biscuits that Susannah had and hid in the secret room for the duration of the day.
Long story short: I can handle a lack of supplies or having my schedule suddenly changed, but if the cafeteria runs out of bread, I will snap.