“When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.”
Feste, “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare
The rain began last Thursday, at times pouring down in buckets, the winds peaking at 55 MPH, according to the National Weather Service. This is Monday, so we’re working on day number 5. Though we are due to see a return to sunny skies shortly, I can’t help but look back on those days when I was still hanging out in the middle school, and remember how we coped with those times when the rain kept students under cover for weeks at a time.
Beginning the year Casey was in sixth grade, I opened up my classroom at lunchtime, when it rained, so that students had an alternative to the multi-purpose room, as exciting a venue as that was. Students were encouraged to bring their lunches into my class and eat, and then afterwards, remain to take advantage of a warm, dry environment, in which to spend their lunch-break.
Students could do a last-minute assignment if they chose, or they could do anything they wanted that did not involve being up and about. Over the years I had accumulated a number of board games, including plenty of decks of cards, and these were available on a first-come-first-served basis.
There was really only one rule that accompanied the basic “Be respectful to the environment and those in it,” and that was that you had to be seated in a chair-your own chair-no sharing.
That way, it was a given that you weren’t in there to play football or musical chairs. The volume was loud, of course, but it was an organized chaos that allowed students to let out a little of that pent-up steam, before they returned to their next class.
There would undoubtedly be music on the boom-box, and if I were desperate, I could even make use of the time to get blast-minute assignment graded before the next period(s) began.
I remember Judy and Kathy, both yard supervisors for many years, covering my classroom for me, so that I could go up to the staffroom and check my mail, use the facilities, or even xerox something for later on that afternoon.
It was a mutually beneficial arrangement, because the more students who were in my classroom the fewer who were out in the quad, trying to stay warm without running around on slippery concrete.
I never worried about students making a mess and just leaving it. First of all, their peers would never allow them to get away with it; secondly, they recognized a good thing when they saw it. If they abused the privilege, they would lose it.
I wanted my sons to have a comfortable place to be at lunch, and it just so happened that their friends were welcome too. After all three had moved on beyond the middle school, I still kept my classroom open at lunch when it rained.
Now when we have these extended periods of rain, I look back and remember those days in the classroom, with forty or so kids all sharing lunch, and smile.
How many of you can say you have shared lunch with more than two eighth graders, and lived to smile about it?
Lived, sure, but still smiling when it was over?