Hello all! Hope the first half of October has been off to a great start for you! Here are a couple more pages from the teaching-inspired altered book that I recently began creating at a workshop at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, Wisconsin:
The small mini-page on the left, which was inserted into the binding with a strip of distressed muslin, was constructed from an antique greeting card featuring an illustration of summer greenery that has an appealing painterly quality and jumped out at me immediately when I spotted it in the instructor’s box of ephemera. An inkjet copy of a vintage photograph of two young women is adhered to an old piece of yellowed notebook paper, and layered with a distressed piece of lace and words cut from an old book, which read, “petty jealousies had led to bickering and quarrels.” The photo of the women and this phrase came together to embody the theme of this mini-page–the fierce ego wars and ruthless competition that often plays out between teachers in a school, year in and year out. I have experienced it firsthand myself in every school in which I’ve worked, and have found it to be a significant source of stress in my career life. In general, teachers are highly territorial creatures; they want to do things their way in their classrooms with their students–and they don’t want to be told what to do or how to do it by anyone else–even a well-meaning colleague or principal. In my fifteen-year career, I have witnessed and participated in many tense discussions and even the occasional shouting match over contentious issues–and have been aware of countless instances of backstabbing, bullying, exclusion, and terrible gossip. People may assume the business world has a monopoly on vicious workplace environments, but I beg to differ. While I wish I could say it wasn’t true, I hypothesize that much of the trouble is owed to the fact that for most of its history, teaching has been a female-dominated profession. I would estimate that 98% of the worst behaviors I’ve seen have been perpetrated by women against other women; this is the main reason why I’ve gravitated toward and formed alliances with my male colleagues throughout my time in the classroom.
The page on the right serves as an ironic counterpoint to the page on the left. Created with a scrap of vintage wallpaper, a page from an old Gregg’s Shorthand textbook, a distressed game card, a vintage photo of a man and woman standing outside of a school that I found in my grandmother’s scrapbook, a piece of a page torn from a vintage book containing the words “Lovers’ Meetings,” a weathered card from a school-themed board game, and a chipboard piece containing the image of a fountain pen, this page is devoted to the romance that frequently arises between teachers in schools. In every school in which I’ve worked, there have been teachers involved in secret and not-so-secret romances, teachers who have openly dated each other, and even those who have married each other. This particular theme relates to my own life, as I met the guy who would eventually become my husband at the first school where I taught; he happened to be the special education teacher who assisted me in my inclusion English classes. Two of my best friends from college also married men they met in the course of their teaching positions. So…why has romance been such a prevalent phenomenon between employees in schools? As much as teachers want to think they can work their magic independently in the isolated spheres of their classrooms, teaching has always been a team sport–and anytime people work closely together in intense, stressful environments, love connections are bound to develop.
Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to check out this post! Have a wonderful Sunday!