Once August rolls around, I feel like I disappear into teacher world.
The first week always brings me excitement, slight anxiety, and just enough nerves to make it come together. After a lazy summer, I suddenly kick into high gear and surrender my life over to a classroom. This year presented a larger barrier than I have had in the past. Switching schools is a challenge in itself, I don't know where the copier is, I had to figure out where to park, what doors were open at 7 am (if any), or who and where to go when I need something.
This year also challenged my reliability on "stuff." Half of our building is new, beautiful, Green even! The other half is old and needs a face lift badly. My classroom assignment landed me in the old part of the building. Walking in, I saw mounds of furniture- broken desks, 6 filing cabinets, graffiti on chairs, you name it, it was in there. I later find out my room was the dumping ground for broken things for the past few years.... great. After our incredibly helpful custodian helped me rid my classroom of junk, I was left with white cinderblock walls in an awkward rectangular shape, a projector with no cables, 1 window, a few desks, 4 whiteboards that are not magnetic, and 1 bulletin board. No computers, no SmartBoard (gasp!). I had become dependent on my interactive whiteboard for the last 3 years and now I do not have a computer in my room. Needless to say, my idea of what teaching looked like was hit dead in the face.
So after my pity party, and a few inspirational words from Dad, I was off and running to renovate this white space into a learning environment! My Dad reaffirmed me that the best thing my students will have is ME. Take away the pretty, techy things, and I am left. I am the teacher to begin with, right? So after 5 years, I started over. I am having to rethink teaching in a new context for the sake of learning, not my comfort.
A few classroom improvements:
- make a tree! my mom suggested using butcher paper to make something colorful on the walls. I chose a tree (genre tree) and it inspired the rest of my week.
- paint the whiteboard trim, another teacher suggested this and it was a great idea! I chose yellow to brighten it up.
- curtain to bring more attention to my one window, thank you Mom
- Be a vulture! I began roaming the halls finding give aways and unwanted furniture that I could use... best find? an extra bulletin board that fell off the main hallway, sure I'll take it!
- Ask! I am not afraid to ask to borrow a drill, ask for extra chairs, computers, etc.
- I get by with a little help from my friends- thanks to my super helpful husband and the Santoros, who just happen to be in town, I felt like I had an army of worker bees helping me lift and label.
**classroom pictures to come! I'm not quite finished yet :)
This is the very short version of my journey in becoming a teacher all over again. I let the "broken stuff" get in my way of being a teacher. Teaching starts during the classroom set up, even in the weeks leading up to school. I had to get over myself to see beyond the stuff. I learned how to advocate for myself and for my students. I will ask for what I need, not just what I want. There will be more challenges, but for now, I'll focus more on the process than the progress.