Arthur Goldstein prefers teaching in a trailer — despite the days when it freezes or burns, despite the marching band playing Sousa outside — becase it beats the half classroom.
Sometimes in winter, you fumble wildly to unlock the trailer door, shivering in zero temperatures, only to find a sheet of solid ice on the floor. No one knows how that happens — it’s a wonder of nature. But when the thermostat breaks, as it does every few weeks, you know exactly what’s wrong. Don’t buy into the myth about tin being a good insulator. When it’s hot outside, it’s really hot in the trailers. On frosty mornings, when the heat isn’t working, kids find it painful to sit in those hard plastic chairs.
The alternative to a trailer is a classroom divided into two halfs by a wall. There’s no room for students to get up and talk to each other or for the teacher to walk around to see what students are doing.
Once, shortly after 9/11, I was in a half room and a supervisor walked in. He asked me why we hadn’t observed the moment of silence they’d announced. Of course, the loudspeaker was over on the other side of the half room so we never heard any announcements. When I told him that, he asked me why I had kids sitting on the windowsill. I told him they didn’t want to sit on the floor. Then I asked him to find us another room. But he ran away without responding.
It’s the curse of teaching in a high-performing high school. “Every time we made more space, they sent us more kids.”