I also thought about titling this post “You Jam It, You Fix It” or “You Don’t Have to Call Service Repair For That” or “Your 60 Copies of This 12 Page, Duplexed, Hole-Punched Corner-Stapled Packet Just Had to Be Done at 7:56am?” or “First One In Makes The Coffee.”
Let me tell you how my day began. I woke up 45 minutes late because I forgot I had reset my alarm to my wife’s wake-up time when I left the house yesterday. Somehow I only made it out of my house 20 minutes late, and I set off on my bike for school. [Side note: I ride my uncle’s old brown roadster with a faded nylon saddlebag my dad put on it while he owned the bike. I don’t feel particularly avuncular or fatherly on my 8 block trek to school — just slightly embarrassed.]
No time to slowly settle in at the desk this morning as I prefer, I immediately start putting together folders of the handouts I’ll need for my 5 (!) preps I’m teaching this year. Uh-oh. I need copies for first period. Open the document, make a small change to page 1 of 3, CTRL-P, 30 copies, single-sided, 3-hole punch, diagonal staple upper-left corner, ENTER. Now, you should know my entire floor of hm… maybe 25 teachers share two networked copiers in a copy room located in the middle of our horseshoe-inspired 2nd floor.
This is where my story starts to heat up.
Usually by the time I make it to the copy room, my print job has begun and is well on its way to being finished. I might hesitate to send this medium-sized job to the copy machine before school when the copy room is crammed, but I’ve got time. When I dropped off my lunch at the refrigerator minutes earlier (also located in the copy room), I was the only one there. As I unlock the door to enter, before I ever switch the lights on, I can sense a disturbance in the force. My copy machine isn’t running. Uh-oh again.
Now, I know teachers who would be humanly blue-screened at this point. I’ve listened to so many similar stories where my colleagues walked back to their classrooms, printed the job one more time, walked back to the copy room, again saw nothing, and then gave up (only later to have 2 sets of the same worksheet waiting for them 2 days later). It’s like seeing the round peg won’t fit in the square hole, so trying two round pegs might do the trick.
I’m not that guy. I’m a fixer. Read the display screen. Copier needs staples. Ok, bend down, open the front left door, press lever K, pull out fancy plastic staple holder. Hm… It has staples. Shake it. Press on some of the corners. Blow in it like you did Tecmo Super Bowl. Reinsert staple cartridge, replace lever K, shut door, check display screen. Printing! A victory!
Wait… where’s the first document? Why aren’t my packets printing? Read the display screen. Paper jam in Area B. ORLY? My vainglorious attempt at repair had been struck down in seconds.
In my experience, about 85% of my colleagues at this point would go find the keyboarding teacher. Why? I really haven’t deciphered that one yet. They seem to look at her like the copy machine genie. I think it’s because she has the phone number for tech support in her speed dial.
I’m not that guy. Bend down, open the front right door, release lever B, attempt to visually locate paper jam. Fail. Open paper drawer 1, remove some paper, peer behind drawer to the entry of Area B. Gotcha! Jam located! Reach arm behind the — arm doesn’t fit. Hm… Spin the wheel to pull paper from Area A to Area B. Paper is in a sideways orientation not directly under a rubber paper grabber on the spin-wheel thing. Fine. Push paper drawer 1 in about 2/5 of the way. Arm fits! Clasp corner of shredded paper between thumb and forefinger. Pull slowly, making sure not the rip the paper further, causing complete meltdown and destruction of copier/day/life. Success! Replace all open doors, drawers, levers, and other mechanisms. Look, listen. Warmth! Paper! Documents! Win!
When was I supposed to learn this stuff? Fundamental copy room lessons for all new teachers.
- It might not actually be broken. Give fixing it a try.
- Do not leave the copy machine with a jam. This is paramount. Do something about it. Fix it, find someone, call someone, do something. No man left behind!
- Don’t print a 10 minute job when there are 6 other people in line.
- Don’t print a 10 minute job at 8:02am.
- Print the large jobs after school or during your planning period.
- If you pick up someone else’s copies by mistake, return them to the copy room.
- If you notice the coffee in the coffee machine is cold and dry, make some coffee. Even if you don’t drink it. You’ll be loved. (Editor’s note: I don’t do this)
- Don’t leave your molded, smelly, nastiness in the fridge. All perishable food has a one-day limit. Bring it, eat it, repeat. You have a fridge at home for a reason.
There needs to be a course with this stuff. It needs to be taught by office managers with guest lectures by tenured K-12 teachers. You should get field experience in fixing a copier, what all the buttons on a copier do, and making coffee. You should have to write Hemingway-esque papers on these subjects. It needs to happen.
Now, I’m not without error. This very same day, I was printing 100 grid sheets for my Algebra 1 students by sending the document from my classroom computer, when I accidentally selected the staple option. That was a disaster-in-waiting. I rushed to the copy room, the machine was as hot as my grandma’s fried okra, but a few button presses later, and I had the job canceled. Whew! But, see, I knew how to do this. I knew. From experience.
New teachers should walk in with this knowledge. They just should.