Some of Grady’s teachers are left hanging without a room

The Southerner

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By John Slovensky

Emma Watson seems like a typical literature and communications teacher. She lectures, gives homework, and administers tests. Watson, however, has one big difference from a typical teacher. She doesn’t have a permanent classroom. Instead, Watson is a floating teacher, or “floater,” who must move around to classrooms in which the teacher has a planning period.

“There are definitely challenges [to being a floating teacher],” Watson said, “The biggest one for me personally is making sure I keep everything organized because all I have is my little cart to store 170 students worth of work at any given time in addition to any additional supplies I need to carry around with me.”

Watson is not the only teacher in this situation; there are many other floating teachers at Grady. These teachers do not have classrooms simply because there is no space to put them. To help achieve better academic results, the school was authorized to hire additional teachers. As the school was already at 100 percent capacity, there was nowhere to put these teachers.

While extra teachers are not a bad thing, floating does have a negative impact on both students and teachers. Watson says that floating makes it harder for her to stay organized and also hard to communicate with students. Floating prevents her students from knowing where to find her if they have questions about lessons or homework.

“[Not being able to find me] is tricky because if you have a question about something, I literally could be anywhere in the school,” Watson said.

Sophomore Matthew Wood, a student of Watson, agrees.

“She is a good teacher, but I feel like she could use more supplies and control over the room since it’s not her room,” Wood said.

Watson echoes the sentiment. She says that it is hard to make seating charts and display work because she wants to disturb the original teacher’s classroom as little as possible.

Another problem with floating is that the teachers are often late to the classroom because they have to walk with carts from their previous classroom. Teachers must navigate through crowded halls and wait for elevators instead of using stairs. This can be a problem because students do not have time before class to discuss grades with the teacher or they might become unruly.

“I can’t prep as well because sometimes I get in after [students] do,” Watson said. “And it’s difficult to set up… and sometimes it could negatively impact the start of lessons.”         Wood says that he has noticed this as well.

Not only is the floating status challenging for the floating teacher, but floating confuses the substitute teachers who have to find their way around the school instead of staying in one classroom.

“When there’s a substitute teacher, I cannot blame them for being completely flabbergasted with the situation,” Wood said. “It is a hard schedule to follow … to a sub that has to follow a schedule like the students, just walking through the hallways, it would be extremely confusing, especially to a teacher who has never seen the building before.”

Sophomore Conrad Newton, however, disagrees. “I don’t really notice a problem,” he said.  Newton doesn’t feel that having a floating teacher really has any impact on his classroom experience. He wouldn’t really care if his teacher was floating or not.

Wood says that the situation with floating teachers is a problem that needs to be addressed. As of now, no solution has emerged. No plans have been made to renovate the building to add more classrooms.

Watson said that she doesn’t know if she will float next year or not. “I know things are up in the air for everyone with the changes to our enrollment level and just the way things are with education in general, nothing is a sure bet,” Watson said. “ I could… be back next year and have a room or I could be back on floating or who knows?”

Because there are no solutions forthcoming, students and teachers have to cope with less than ideal circumstances.

“If I had a teacher that had her own room … I couldn’t help but think that if she had her own computer and desk and her own projector, that she could set things up easier,” says Wood. While that might be nice, it doesn’t look like there will be any changes in the near future.

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