At the beginning of the school year, the principal sent out an email asking the faculty and staff to stand in the hallways between classes, when we could. This, he said, would encourage the students to make good choices.
I used to stand in the hallway behind the library, but I was always worried about the noises I heard coming from a nearby stairwell. There are classroom teachers who stand outside their rooms in the hallway, but as far as I could tell, no one was watching the steps, so I decided that’s where I should be.
I stand on the landing in the middle of the steps, in the corner against the wall. Mostly I just smile at the students who catch my eye. Sometimes I wave or say hi. Sometimes the students smile or wave or say hi back. Occasionally I say things like, “Slow down,” or “Move it along,” or quoting one of the principals from my own high school experience, “It’s too early in the morning for lust.” Today I said to a group of boys, “No roughhousing on the steps. Grrrrrrr.”
The stairwell is inside but I don’t think it is heated. It can be really chilly. The five minutes can seem much longer than it is.
One day, not long ago. It was unusually cold outside, and thus, unusually cold in the stairwell. The students would say, “Brrrr!” as they walked through the fire doors.
The regular school staff who pass by me know exactly what I’m doing in the stairwell but on that particular cold day, a substitute came up the steps and was startled to find me hanging out on the landing. He stepped out of the path of traffic over to where I was standing.
“Needing to cool off?” he said.
“No,” I said. “I’m helping the students to make good choices.”
He cocked his eyebrow and looked at me. “I guess that is one way to look at it.”