Friday, October 17, 2008

They Turned on the Freakin Heat!

Yesterday was the first day in several weeks when it was actually pretty seasonal outside and not super hot. We've had a long Indian Summer in Chicago, and most Chicagoans are really enjoying it. But if you teach in a high school with no air conditioning, in a tiny classroom on the third floor, these last few weeks have been hell. I hate when people misuse the word "literally," but I think it may apply in this instance.

I got to work yesterday morning, and after opening my two working windows, it was not too bad in my room. It was still on the warm side, but definitely bearable. I thought, "I'm going to start the day without being miserable!"

The high in Chicago was around 58 degrees, I believe. Cool enough to warrant wearing a jacket to work. I know better, though. I still only wear short sleeved shirts. I usually just throw on a hoodie, discarding it as soon as I get to my classroom.

After 3rd period, I walked over to a colleague's room. It was an oven in there. I asked what the deal was. Then we realized -- they had turned on the heat. You could see the heat radiating against the open windows.

I walked back to my room, and there it was. Apparently October 15 is the day CPS turns the heat on in its schools. Our school, of course, would be late in following such a directive.

But it's not cold yet. I don't understand this. CPS is so lax about so many things. Yet this is the one thing they get done in a timely fashion. I guess I should consider this a good thing. I don't. It's hot!

The kids walked in to my 5th period class, and immediately started yelling at me. They always assume that white people are just naturally cold, and that it was my idea to turn on the heat. Once they stop yelling and I can get a word in edgewise, I explain to them that I am not responsible for this decision. That I'm not responsible for many decisions at this school. And yes, I am also hot.

It's cooler outside today, so it's not as bad. Hopefully fall is finally here. It's a sin to complain about such things when there is an Arctic Chicago winter on the horizon, but I don't care. It'll always be hot in this room -- as it does get cold, the heat gets turned up. There is a schedule to the discomfort.

On Mondays and Tuesdays, it's really cold, because they turn off the heat over the weekend, and it takes a couple of days for the building to warm up. So those are the days when it's safe to wear a sweater or a long sleeved shirt -- seasonally appropriate clothing.

On Wednesdays, the heat is starting to kick in, so it's best to wear a t-shirt and open the windows.

By Thursday and Friday, it's stiflingly hot. You'll be sweating by the end of 5th period. Some people actually change into sleeveless tops and capri pants. The coaches wear shorts. I am jealous of the coaches in their shorts.

But no matter how hot it is, I'll still have kids wearing long sleeved shirts, hoodies, and jackets (all at the same time) yelling about how hot they are. I yell back to remove some layers. They refuse.

Then there's always one student who insists she's cold, and wants to shut the windows. She never wins -- the kids would riot if the windows were closed. And I'd be right there with them.

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