Location, Location, Location

In the second of this ongoing series of blog posts (from my personal blog) with topics chosen by my wife and son, I will share some ideas about facilities.

 

When I started teaching in Medford, I worked in the old Roberts Middle School. The building was built in the 1920s and had very little maintenance over the years. It was so bad that there were cracks in the walls large enough for me to see clearly through to the exterior brick. Within a few minutes of sweeping, there would be a new layer of plaster dust on the floor. We tried not to think about what we might have been breathing. Worst of all, I learned the hard way that my bulletin board would get wet in a heavy rain – more than a few pieces of student work were ruined that way.

 

It got worse. Because the building was in such bad shape and allowed to remain that way, the attitudes of some staff (especially the custodians) and many children were pretty lousy. The lack of care of the building was palpable in many ways around the building. From the supply-hoarding principal to the kids who regularly destroyed the 8th grade hall bathrooms, the place was not a happy one.

 

So, it was a weird feeling when the new building project actually neared completion. Would we really get brand new buildings?

 

We did our first day of school in the new buildings was September 10, 2001. Our first fire drill came on September 11, 9:30am. While few of the systems in the school were working yet, someone had a radio.

 

That fateful day aside, the first year in the new building saw a great change in many of the ways that middle school worked in Medford. We had the good fortune to welcome a new, progressive principal to the new buildings. Most importantly, you could feel the optimism in the air. The building felt mostly happy.

 

We faced many challenges that year. The building wasn’t really finished until January, but we moved in in August. The new principal tried to shake things up and met resistance from some of my colleagues. We had to merge staff cultures from three previous middle school buildings.

 

All in all, it was a tough year, but a great one. The kids and staff of Medford, were proud to have the new buildings. We all felt hopeful.

 

Maybe it is all about location.

 

 

photo credit: nate’sgirl cc not the actual Roberts building. 😉

 

cross posted on Principal’s Point of View

 

4 Comments

  1. Jill Geiser said:

    I work in a building also built in the 1920’s. I came here from a brand new high school campus equipped with all the latest technology. It was quite a contrast. I only somewhat agree that it is about location. The conditions of the facilities can impact how people feel about the school. However, in my building, while we at times grumble about the building—my personal gripe is about the difficulty (albeit not impossibility) of bringing technology into an old building—we also understand that learning is the result of quality instruction within these walls. Our custodial staff works incredibly hard to keep up with the maintenance and cleanliness of the school. The area I have seen its effect is with the perspective outside the school and in the community. New buildings have been put up in the district and it seems that the perception for some is that they must be better schools if the buildings are better. As a school, we are trying to show our community the quality of our school despite the facilities and I think we are making some headway.

    April 13, 2011
    Reply
    • Larry Fliegelman said:

      Jill,

      It sounds like you have a good thing going there even if it can be tough to bring in new tech. I know that a big part of the problem that faced in that old building was attitude. While some things changed in the short term at the new building, I wonder how long it lasted once the shine wore off and the old attitudes had the chance to re-emerge.

      I still think that location matters, but clearly not as much as a good culture.

      Thanks for commenting.

      April 14, 2011
      Reply
  2. Mr. Fliegelman ,

    I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL. I am currently a Senior and am majoring in Secondary/English Language Arts Education. I agree that location has much to do with the way we feel and our comfort. It seems plausible to contribute some of the destructive behaviors of the students to their feelings of neglect by the school system’s failure to provide a safe learning environment. A;though there were some struggles, it seems that the new building made a difference in attitudes which supports the importance of the affect the condition of the learning environment has on all in attendance. Great post!

    My complete response will be present on my blog listed above. You can also find me on Twitter @NicoleWilson2 Thanks for sharing your story.

    April 14, 2011
    Reply
    • Nicole,

      Thank you for reading and commenting. Your blog looks good; please keep sharing your views with the world.

      Good luck in your classes and good luck in your first English classroom.

      Thanks.

      Larry

      April 14, 2011
      Reply

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