112. Adult Time

I remember a day when I went to Cambridge with three other third grade teachers. We had substitutes, and we were in Cambridge to attend a workshop at Harvard, and to shop for materials for our unit on Russia. The workshop was useful, and we found some good materials, but what I remember most is lunch. It’s not that I don’t have lunch every day, or that I don’t go to restaurants with friends from time to time. It’s not that the food was any
better than other food I’ve had. It’s that we were four teachers spending relaxed adult time on a school day.
In many professions, the lunch break is a time to relax, eat, chat, schmooze, even digest the food. I’ve seen people in other professions during their lunch breaks. They hardly look at their watches at all. They don’t gulp down their food, or wonder whether there’s time to have dessert. Now, we chose to be teachers, and to be there for children. We get vacations that are the envy of many other professionals. I’m not complaining about the short lunch breaks teachers get (well, maybe I’m complaining a little).
I’m trying to make the point that those days when teachers leave substitutes in charge of their classes and attend workshops or do other things for their professional development have benefits that transcend the enhanced curriculum or new technique. Teachers are more likely to support each other and learn from each other if they are friends. They usually don’t have opportunities to get together outside of school; they have lives they need to live. The little lunch breaks they have in school have very little room for “How’s your father doing?” or “Are you going skiing this weekend?” There’s hardly time for “Do you have a globe you don’t need at 2:00?”
Four teachers having lunch together in Harvard Square shouldn’t have had to be nervous about whether there were any members of the Wellesley community nearby, watching us relax over dessert. We were working hard not to wonder how our classes were doing – to savor this time when, as one of us put it, “we get to be adults.”

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