I know we had some hot days during that first week of classes on the second floor (with no air conditioning). The heat just radiated from the old wooden floors, and the loud, electric box fans in the windows just pushed the hot air around. I ended my days with sweaty clothes and hair, but with all the exhaustion of that job, I'm not sure any of my fifth graders actually learned from me. Those students have no reason to believe they were ever in my class. My picture and name never appeared in their yearbooks or on their report cards.
The only thing they might remember is that we wrote letters to one of my friends who was then serving in the war against Iraq (1990). With perfect timing, that friend returned home and actually visited us in the classroom. I can proudly report that within the first two weeks of my first teaching job, I received positive press (in the form of a television news report) for Oklahoma City Schools.
By the end of my short time there, I was transferred to a different location to teach second grade in another city school. Again, the heat was stifling, and we still had to fight the sounds of traffic and box fans.
Thankfully, the fires of everyday lives do not require trained firefighters to put them out. But fires do reveal themselves to us in the unlikeliest of times. We can only react. My hope is that we will keep the fires small, this year, and put them out quickly as a team. I often talk to my students about conflict resolution. I often observe with them that it's not always the action that gets people in trouble, but it is our reaction to the action that can either escalate matters or shrink them to extinction. How do we avoid escalation? How do we effectively resolve conflict? It is something we all should work on as our world changes around us. Thankfully, the fires at Page-Woodson are out, and minimal damage was done, but even with small fires damage is inflicted that will forever scar the historic building.