Three minutes may not seem like a long time. However, to teachers in a secondary setting, those three minutes between bells signaling new classes is a welcome respite to take a deep breath before plunging back into the deep end of the pool.
Back when we had the middle school in Ellendale, the rooms were so close together that all of us teachers could gather together at the end of the hall for some brief social meetings and to keep an eye on all the kids scurrying through the halls. Once we moved to New Richland though, we were no longer all within sight of each other; I can go days on end without seeing some of my peers in the middle school.
That adult interaction is so important in our job. Think about your occupation. Do you do your work with others, finding small moments to bring up the Twins game or The Walking Dead episode from the night before? Many people do that while remaining focused on the task at hand. Or are you enmeshed in a cubicle or office, plugging away, only occasionally stepping out for a scheduled break? Some people prefer that focused environment, accomplishing much without all the distractions that others naturally bring.
The way our hallway is set up, my room is in close proximity to Mr. Larson and Mr. Ferber, both 6th grade teachers. We savor those three-minute blocks of time and find plenty to discuss. Here’s another important part of those mini-breaks: we get along with each other. It’d be tough to cobble together conversation if we had nothing in common, but that’s certainly not the case with us.
When Mr. Cyr was principal, he deemed us “The Purple Zealots” due to our passion for the Minnesota Vikings. It’s guaranteed that Lars and I will both wear our Vikings ties the day after a win, and Mr. Ferber (The Duke) will don Vikes clothing on Mondays regardless of the outcome. Trust me, we have all the answers to what ails our beloved football team, so if the head honchos at Winter Park need answers, we can spare them three minutes to map out a plan.
Sports are an easy thing to talk about because we’ve all played and coached for many years. But we also watch the reality show Survivor. We’ve long since learned the value of spoiler alerts, just in case someone hasn’t seen the latest episode. Duey has toyed with trying out for the show over the years, and he even introduced me to a former contestant whom he knew while growing up in Byron!
It’s probably a good thing the bell rings to stir us from our pontifications and get back to work. Most of you don’t have that luxury though, unless your boss shows up on the scene. How much time gets thrown away to frivolous matters in the average workplace? Forbes did an interesting study back in 2013 about this matter and found some intriguing results.
They discovered that 29% of employees surveyed wasted 1-2 hours per week, and 21% wasted 2-4 hours per week. Three% even admitted to wasting 10 or more hours a week! If time is money, this last group of people cost their companies plenty; they waste at least a week for every month of work!
One of the biggest time-wasting periods is around the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. March Madness has people filling out brackets by the millions, and it’s estimated that event costs more time than anything else during the year. Not only is time spent on picking winners, but also on checking scores or streaming games. Most of these areas have a “Boss Button” that will instantly change your screen to something that looks like work!
It’s very easy to say we’re just going to quick check Facebook or play a game of Candy Crush, and some studies show it’s a good thing to just take a mental break for a couple of minutes. But it’s not so easy all the time to resume the activities we’re getting paid to do, is it?
I’m lucky to work near some good friends in Shawn and Duey. Much like some of you, I can look forward to taking a few minutes to get out from under the pile of work and discuss whether the Timberwolves new coach will finally get the job done or whether the rain will come as predicted. At the very least, a good quote from Seinfeld or The Office or Cheers can be found floating out from our conversation or a new nickname determined for a passerby.
Oops! There’s the bell. I’d best get back to my job!
Word of the Week: This week’s word is galumph, which means to move slowly and heavily, as in, “The teachers watched the overloaded students galumph from class to class.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!