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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pallets for Pedagogues

Georgia - "It's not good for my back," winced forty-two-year-old Sara Freeman of Mason, Georgia as she pulled herself up from her cot. "But at least I can get some sleep."  For the second time this week, Sara slept at her school.

Heavy workloads have made sleeping at
school a necessity for some teachers
Sara teaches third graders at a Power Is Power (PIP) charter school, one of a growing number of schools offering cots for teachers who want to sleep in the building so they don't waste time going home.  "I would rather be home in my own bed but that's not always possible. By the time I'm done tutoring students, grading homework and tests, updating my bulletin boards, reviewing student data, writing my lesson plans and individualized education plans, it can be very late.  So I just pull the cot out of the closet and try to catch a few winks."

Sara is not alone.  Teachers in Arizona began sleeping at their schools last year after their districts began providing on-site sleeping accommodations. According to the National Center on Time and Learning, a nonprofit research group in Boston, about 100 schools - more than 90 of them charter schools - across the country provide sleeping accommodations for their teachers. Martin Shell, Tucson school board president is convinced it will ultimately benefit students. "It really is a time saver for our employees.  Now as soon as they wake up, they can work.  The more time teachers are at work, the more work they do and we are convinced that will result in higher test scores."

Although it may sound extreme, some teachers seem to make the most of it.  Darren Smithfield, who teaches seventh grade math in Tucson, showed us around his classroom/bedroom. His desk discreetly hid the cot and contained his toothbrush and electric razor.  "My wife came by and visited on Wednesday night. It was nice, we ate together in the cafeteria, the kids read books in the library while she and I talked about what we would do this weekend if they let me leave, I mean if I go home." He added quickly, "And you know the cot is not so bad, you get used to it after a while."

The cots were paid for by a generous grant from the Walton Foundation while the blankets and pillows were given by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Read Survey: Teachers Work 53 Hours Per Week On Average


  1. Knowing their teachers pretty much live at school will make the students more comfortable and "at home" when they are in school. Especially the ones whose parents are split up or come from homes plagued by violence, drugs and alcohol,divorce, crime, dangerous neighborhoods, poverty...It might even make it more comfortable to put a stainless steel wash-basin in a corner.

  2. hi. well your experiences ar really nice to read. will be looking for more of them.

    Student Accommodation in US