Wednesday, June 26, 2013

snapshots of day's end


Photographer and former Boston teacher Aliza Eliazarov visited New York City classrooms last spring to capture “a poignant time in a teacher’s day”—the end, after students have left.
 
Much is evident in these images: that it isn’t, in fact, the end when students depart; that many teachers are exhausted (their words, though the pictures reveal it); that many find kids inspiring and challenging, and they must process those thoughts.
 
What a fascinating idea. This made me want to grab my camera and walk around the building after hours next November (we’re pretty haggard by then).
 
My classroom after the last bell is seldom empty, an aspect that I sometimes appreciate and sometimes bemoan. In my first year, my room sat at the end of a hallway by the gym, and no one really knew me—an ideal situation for getting work done, but I felt isolated. Now I’m in a highly-trafficked hallway and much of the student body are veterans of my class or know who I am; this means my classroom after school contains between one and seventeen kids long after the busses have pulled away. (Their presence seems to be directly proportionate to the number of time-sensitive tasks requiring extreme focus that I have.)
 
Even when I secretly wish they’d mosey out and allow me some productivity, I never say so. Aside from appreciating the company, I want them to feel welcome and safe somewhere. If they couldn’t be in my room, where would they go? Maybe they’d head over to their science classroom or to the park, but they might not have those options. Other teachers could be in meetings and have locked doors; perhaps they don’t have friends to meet up with; perhaps they want to delay going home.
 
Last year, there was a regular who came in to sit beside me and chat, confide, or just do her homework. There were also unexpectedly crowded days: a few times, I had entire film crews show up—complete with light screens, microphones, props, and extras—using my space to make student-produced films. Both scenarios were pleasant surprises, but when having to leave meant having to scoop up piles of untouched work spread across my desk and take it home, there were heavy sighs. In this job, “day's end” is rarely the end of the day.
 
Photo by Aliza Eliazarov.

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