SOL #21: 20 minutes

I jumped out of my car with an odd sense of happiness. I made my way to the door when I noticed a sign ‘Please use front entrance ONLY.’

Alright, I thought. Makes sense. They want to monitor who is coming in and out of the building.

I made my way to the front and saw three men standing in front of the doors- wide open for all to enter.

“Wow, how very serious this all is!” I said trying to break the seriousness with a not-so-good joke.

The custodian looked at his watch and recorded the time.

“Oh, so you are timing us? For real?” I asked and stated at the same time.

“Yes, please use the main entrance to exit as well,” the district’s lead buildings manager replied.

“My room is at the opposite end of the building. I should definitely get an extra five minutes,” I chuckled. No one else found it humorous.

I started walking up the hallway. I picked up my pace, grateful that I wore my sneakers.

“Hey, Marcia! Miss you. Hope you’re well,” I called as I passed the 1st grade rooms.

“Hey, Peg,” I heard, but didn’t stay to hear the rest. I had 20 minutes! I pulled my phone from my pocket. Set the timer. I needed something to give me a measure of how much time I spent. Time goes quickly at school.

Empty room. Empty room. Peeking in. No one there. I almost felt relief because I would want to talk.

Missy’s lights were on.

“Hey Miss!” I called out.

“Hey, Bruno, Love ya! Stay healthy, girl,” she called without stopping her work and staying well over 6 feet away!

“Love you right back!” I called as I continued walking the long hallway to my room. Longer than usual!

I jogged into my room. Put my enormous tote bag down. Pulled my note from my pocket and started to work.

Notebooks. Binders. Notepads. Post its (big and small). Mr. Sketch markers. Sharpies. Flair pens. (Seriously? You know you would grab those too!) More binders. Middle school recommendations. Junior Scholastic magazines. Chromebook. iPad. I made quick work of the items on my list. I skipped one item. Kept going. Kept going.

Sweat was beginning to bead on my forehead. Seriously? It is March in Connecticut. It is not hot. Take a breath! I tapped my phone. 6:42. Less than seven minutes. I made my way to the shelf.

This was on my list. It was on my ‘to do’ list. Organize your picture books. UGH! So many. What do I pick? What will I want to read to them? I leaned in. I couldn’t see the titles. So many all blended together.

Then I gave in. I sat down. Right there on the floor. I scanned. I pulled. I scanned. And pulled more. I counted. 1-2-3-4-5. Not enough. I kept pulling. Ten works for now. Then I made my way over to my Reading shelf. Anthologies. Collections. That will work! I pulled three of them. Oh and this read aloud… I so wanted this to be our next one. Maybe it can be!

I tapped my phone. 2:12. Phew. I got this. I shoved the books into my bag. I reached down. I got this.

I pulled. That is one heavy bag. I put my phone in my pocket. This was a two armed job. I took one side with one hand, and one with the other. Oh, my gosh, this is so heavy. I walked out of my room. Looked at the back doors. I opened them, feeling almost guilty. (Almost). I opened the door and pushed the bag onto the concrete.

I tapped my phone. :51… I got this. I made my way down the hallway in a partial jog.

The fastest 20 minutes of my life.

12 thoughts on “SOL #21: 20 minutes”

  1. Oh my I gosh, I don’t know why but I burst into tears reading this – especially the end. The way that you wrote it, the pace picks up, faster and faster, making me more and more anxious as your/our time was running out. I am fortunate enough to live in a place where our schools are small and teachers are mostly still allowed in and out to get what they need. I can’t imagine having 20 minutes to grab everything and go. (And it feels like a very appropriate analogy for the state of things in our country right now… the clock is ticking for our hospitals).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Beth. I actually cried writing it! It has been such an emotional time and it was overwhelming and I truly didn’t expect it. All of this is so unexpected and challenging. I’m thankful for this community to share with.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I felt breathless as I read this slice, Peg.
    The idea of having just 20 minutes to make the perfect choices to help your students from afar. Goodness! I don’t know how you managed to do it. The picture books alone could have taken a few hours.
    This whole slice reminds me of the “what’s the one thing you’d save if there was a fire in your home?” It is nearly impossible to answer.
    The pacing in your writing was just-right. Your mixture of action, thinking, and dialogue could make this a mentor piece for anyone writing a slice of life story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have only 30 minutes on Monday to get stuff from my classroom (though I’m hoping they’re not quite as strict about it as your school was). I’ve been thinking about what I need to make sure I grab, and I loved reading about what was on your list. I love the dialogue in your piece–it feels so real and is a nice lightener to the heavy topic (even if the guys at the front door didn’t appreciate your humor, I did!). That first line is getting to me right now. I’m so excited to be in my classroom, even if only for a few minutes. Definitely expecting to feel that “odd sense of happiness” myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We have been on spring break this week, so we go into eLearning mode this week. I am sure the announcement is coming that we will not be able to go back in. Your post makes me realize I have time now to go get things. Hopefully, longer than 20 minutes!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I appreciate your experience. My Friday was similar. The stuff is still in my trunk waiting for me to get my workspace set up. I brought a lot of books. It was sort of a if the building was on fire what would you grab moments

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We have a few hours on Monday.. I wonder if it will be broken into segments if assigned times. I think I will be getting books, books, books. And trying to organize the things left in the room to make it easier for our custodians when they do a “deep clean.”


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