It could be described as aimless wandering, the way I walked from point to point in my classroom yesterday. My daughters and I arrived at about 11:30am knowing we had about three hours to begin to put the room to rights. We had water bottles, snacks, and a plan. But I looked out at so many desks that the custodians had left in rows, book boxes piled on the table, three computers along the windowsill, my desk in an odd central spot and the reality of the room and its contents did not match up with the beautifully organized learning space in my head. How do those Pinterest teachers create so much space in their classrooms?
We started with a list. I wrote on the white board the spaces I wanted to create and we surveyed the room together. Mailboxes need to go near the door, without blocking the phone the way they did last year. The library shelves would go along the back wall, under the literacy bulletin boards. For now, I’ll set up the computer table at the end of the library, boxing in the space a little, creating a “room”. Thea got to work constructing the shelves I bought over the weekend. Anya and I focused on arranging the desks in groups and finding places for the work tables. The girls picked out bulletin board colors for me and we created display space on what was once bare walls by creating two big green blocks for Science, a large purple box (to match the purple storage case) for Math, and an orange wall for Social Studies (because orange is my favorite color not just the new black and because we wanted to brighten up that particular wall).
When 2:30 came with the announcement that we all had to leave by 3:00pm, the girls and I looked around the room to see well-defined spaces. I could imagine the students and I maneuvering easily to get to where we needed to go. The room is not complete, but it no longer inspires mindless wandering. It now holds purpose.
We’re hoping to go back on Thursday, when we can stay all night if we want to since the custodians will be back on their regular school year schedule. Thea is going to put together the cart of drawers that I think will serve as the writing center. I am going to clean out a few corners and finally get rid of the big TV cart that we never used but that we had to keep in the room last year (rumor has it I can get rid of it, I just have to ask the right guy). We’ll add borders to the big color blocks we hung on the wall so the edges appear straight and neat. I have some bulletin boards to create and books to sort into leveled and themed boxes. And I wish it were Thursday already. I was so happy to be in school yesterday, to be creating a welcoming learning space.
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