This photo is of a classroom down the hall from the room where I teach freshman composition. The glass beakers and vials caught my attention, along with the walnut cabinets and brass handles.
My room has a black laboratory table in front of a chalkboard. The table acts as a barricade between the students and me, which in my high school teaching days would have provided a modicum of relief. Their wooden desks rest on metal bases that are bolted to the floor. One boy, who is quite thin, complained that his seat was too small.
The laboratory table has a sink with running water. After class one day, a girl turned on the water to see if the faucet worked, and it did. An instructor who used to teach English in this room told me the first thing he would do upon entering the classroom was to turn the water on and wash his hands.
There’s a smell of damp air ducts and old linoleum. The building used to be a parking deck. The inner ramp where the cars would drive is now a walkway.