No, I did not get a laminator for Christmas.
I didn’t want one. I never have wanted one. Nor do I enjoy any of the other classroom tasks that laminating requires. Measuring. Lettering. Cutting in a straight line.
Which apparently makes me unique among teachers.
I became aware of this difference between myself and other new Spanish teachers in my district at the start of the school year, when our department head took us on a tour of the print shop.
Being brand new to teaching, I was expecting a place like Kinkos, where you drop off raw material to be copied and pressed into plastic by experts. To my horror, it turned out we teachers were expected to be the experts with all the machines.
The other teachers were thrilled to see the equipment. Not me.
Fortunately I had brought along only one poster to laminate. I got another teacher to do the work for me by asking her to show me how the machine worked. I left right after that, figuring if I needed to laminate anything else during the school year I could use the same ruse at least one other time.
The reason I have an aversion to making things for my classroom is that I am not any good at it. As a kid I was all thumbs. The pot holders I make in kindergarten always had dropped loops. I never could color within the lines. As an adult I don’t sew on buttons. That’s what the dry cleaner is for. I once took a college-level drawing class and produced a lot of work that looked like cartoons.
Fortunately, there are plenty of other things my job requires that I do well. I love grading and communicating with parents by phone and e-mail. Finding amusing images online and projecting them on my classroom screen is no problem. I am getting a handle on managing classrooms full of wiggling sixth, seventh and eighth graders. And even lesson planning has turned out to be fun.
So as I start my second semester as a teacher, I am wondering if I can start to barter services for things that I am good at — composing e-mails or inputting grades into the computer — for lettering, cutting, laminating and working my school’s ornery photocopy machine. After all I have heard a few teachers refer to these tasks as “the fun stuff.”
I would love to hear from other teachers who, like me, dislike the crafty side of teaching. I plan to return to this topic again.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org