A Day In the Life

Trailer Trash: A Top 10 List. Kind Of.

Okay, so technically, I can’t be considered real “trailer” trash since I work in a modular,* but since a colleague referred to me as trailer trash, let’s go with it.

Top 5 Best Things About Working in a Modular/Trailer

  1. No One Bothers You. It’s wonderful. I think I’ve seen administration twice in our building all year, and the first time was on Back to School Night, so, I don’t know if that counts. Seriously, I never see anyone unless he or she also works in my building or is delivering a class of students to me. This is especially great if you like to hideaway, or need to, ahem, sneak out, uh, early, which I never do, but, uh, probably could if I, uh, wanted to. Or, you know, if you’re running late in the morning, and, uh, aren’t technically on time.
  2. Exercise. All. The. Exercise. I walk a lot. Back to the main building to get supplies, to check my mailbox, to visit the paper storage closet, to check the kiln, to catch-up with my art teacher co-hort, and so on, and so on. I get a lot of exercise. That’s a good thing.
  3. The Power to Control Your Own Climate. Too hot? Turn up the AC. Too cold? Bump up that heat. The ability to control the climate in my classroom is a luxury I welcome every day. Especially after back-to-back classes of 6th graders. I spent years working in stifling hot classrooms, rooms with no ventilation, and rooms with no windows, so I love being able to adjust the thermostat whenever I gosh darn please.
  4. You’re in Your Own Little World. School drama and politics never reach me. I’m ignorant of it all, and ignorance is bliss.
  5. Breathing Time. None of my classes show up on time. Ever. They’re always 2-7 minutes late. Normally, this would be irritating as hell, but when you have three, hour long, classes scheduled back-to-back, it’s good to have some time to breath. Or cut paper. Whatev’.

It’s not all peaches and cream over here though.

Top 5 Worst Things About Working in a Modular/Trailer

  1. People Forget About You. It can be very isolating when your classroom is separate from the main school building. People often forget you exist. It’s easy to go days without seeing anyone from the main building. And since many of my classes’ teachers like to drop their students off at the entrance to the mod, all the way on the other end of the building, I often don’t even see them. This makes it challenging when you need to discuss any issues with a classroom teacher. I make a point of traveling into the main building at least twice a day, once in the morning, and once in the afternoon. If anything, it’s good exercise.
  2. All. The. Traveling. I know, I know. I just talked about the great exercise, but I will not pretend that having to travel into the main building for paper and clay and extra paint and shared tools isn’t a pain in the ass. And then there’s the harrowing journey to the kiln, pushing the wobbly AV cart, loaded with precious masterpieces, down the Bumpity Ramp of Broken Dreams, across the Slanted Pavement of Peril, over the Threshold of Terror, and up the Shaky Prehistoric Elevator of Doom. I’m not going to lie, there have been casualties. It hasn’t been pretty.
  3. Unique Emergency Procedures. When you work in a modular, or a trailer, emergency procedures work a little bit differently. And a little against common sense. Whereas you wouldn’t ordinarily exit the building during a tornado drill, when you work in the modular, you do. Yes, that’s right kids, it’s a tornado drill, so let’s exit the building and make our way, in an orderly fashion, to the main building, where we will the assume the proper tornado drill position, or die on our way there. Hard to say, but don’t worry, it’s okay, it’s in the Emergency Procedures Handbook. And heaven forbid you’re a specialist working in a mod or trailer during a Secure the Building scenario. Well, yes, sure, it’s business as usual in the main building, but in the modular and the trailer, there’s a 5th grade class sitting in art for an additional 45 minutes (on top of the 60 minutes they’ve already been there), and don’t forget the 6th grade class, blowing on their instruments in one of the trailers for just as long. Pretty sure most of them have passed out by now though. But, yeah, sure, it’s business as usual.
  4. The Complaining. Oh, the Complaining. From the teachers, of course. Oh my goodness, we have to bring our classes to the modular for art? All the way out there? As in, walk our classes out there? For art? But do we have to? Yes, yes you do. So suck it up, buttercup, put on your hiking boots and hoof it on out here. You’re late for art.
  5. Late Classroom Teachers. Teachers dropping their classes off a few minutes late? Not a terribly big deal. Teachers arriving to pick their students up ten minutes late? That’s a big deal. “Oh, I’m sorry I’m so late, our CLT ran late, and then I had to walk all the way out here…” Yeah, I know, it’s such a long haul out here. How on earth could you have anticipated how long it would take you to get out here? And isn’t it too bad there’s nothing you can do to get out here on time? Now if you’ll excuse me, my next class has been waiting for their art to start, so bye-bye.

Work in a modular or a trailer? What would you add to this list?

*In case you don’t know, a modular is a mini-building built on the school grounds. It has multiple classrooms, heating, plumbing, electricity, bathrooms, work rooms, hallways and just about anything else you might need. Think of it as a pod that happens to be detached from the school.


5 thoughts on “Trailer Trash: A Top 10 List. Kind Of.

  1. this is so true 🙂 At least we don’t have tornado drills in california only earthquakes and lock downs! You always make me laugh. Also you are lucky I only have one portable heater in my room and it actually not even a modular its part of the metal shed 🙂 Still I am happy and grateful to have the space to do my own thing. keep making us all laugh. best renee


  2. Sheila Billick says:

    For 27 years I taught art in the only classroom in the school’s basement. I experienced most of your best and worst things, and as far as a tornado drills go, I was already there !!!


  3. Helen Windhorst says:

    I have a place to call my own. It is large enough to store supplies and have art classes. I am very grateful. I don’t have any water in my modular. I carry clean water out in gallon jugs. My modular is two classroom together with no bathroom. Picture kindergartners desperate for a bathroom. They have to go outside, walk across the playground, find the back door (out of sight from my modular), find and ring the doorbell and hope someone lets them in before they have an accident.Scary.


  4. Holly B. says:

    I taught in a basement of an old school, to get anywhere it involved stairs, the kiln was down a ramp, up a half flight of stairs, down a flight of stairs, through the old metal boiler room doors down yet more stairs. Needless to say, I didn’t do clay a lot at that building. I also didn’t have sinks but at least I had lots of buckets.


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