Unbagging the Cats 1

Unbagging the Cats 1

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Quarterly Harvest of Semi-Precious Paperclips

First Quarter ended last week. Which means only one thing: time to recycle the paperclips. I know it's time, even without an old red gradebook that needs a page-turning, or some calendar-watching crony telling me, "We're a fourth of the way through the school year!" I know it's time. Because in my top flat desk drawer, the paperclip compartment of my pencil tray is as empty as a sugarholic's candy bowl at 9:00 Halloween night.

The main classroom predator of paperclips is my stack of make-up work. I have a rack for each subject. At the end of the day, I take the extra copies of assignments, write the date in the upper right corner, paperclip them together, and put them in the rack. When an absent urchin reappears, I point to the rack and emphasize the date. Presto-chango! The student has the make-up work. Mayhap it will appear the next day complete, mayhap it won't. My responsibility in the exchange is complete. Even is there is no written assignment, I type a short note about the day's activities, print several copies, and put them in the rack. Paperclipped together, of course. So we're looking at forty-five paperclips per subject, assuming there was only ONE page of the assignment each day.

I used to work at the unemployment office, in the department that determined the eligibility of claimants. It was kind of like being a telephone judge, jury, and executioner. We received our caseload for the day, called employers and claimants, wrote up both sides of the stories, and allotted or denied benefits. Our supervisor, Larry, had no greater bugaboo than extraneous paperclips. We loved Larry. Really. He looked like Ned Flanders, complete with the walk and the mustache, but remiss in the diddly-doodly-speak. Larry decreed that we should file no paperclip before its time. He assigned someone, on slow days, to comb through the five-drawer lateral file cabinet and REMOVE all paperclips. "The papers are not going anywhere, people. They'll still be in the same order you put them in the folder. They don't need paperclips."

Danged it he didn't have a point.

Of course, Larry's not here to reason with me concerning my make-up work bindings. I feel that they're totally necessary. It's not like I throw paperclips away at the end of the quarter. I recycle. 

I have only been through one subject at this point in the harvest. With five hours slotted for parent conferences tomorrow, I think I can reap the remainder of the tiny metal loops that I've sown.


Linda O'Connell said...

How many loops in a paper clip? Things like that can make you as loopy as parent-teacher conferences, which make your facial muscles ache from fake smiling and frowning.

Val Thevictorian said...

I have never had time to count the loops in a paper clip. I'm always busy putting them on or taking them off. My conference face was serene. I had a total of four visitors. That's what happens when you teach high school, and grades are available to parents online every day.