Back to School Shopping

I haven’t really been posting much. With a week to go before the kids arrive, I have never before felt so unprepared. I know part of it is just the logistics of being in a new building – and boy, what a fantastic building. The classroom my students and I will be sharing is starting to take shape, but unlike previous years, when you’ve really gotten a sense of how your classroom works, the time to plan out the spaces and get the room ready for the kids is quite daunting. As one parent put it, it’s like you just moved in to a brand new house and you have to get it ready for a formal dinner party.

Since we’ve had temporary occupancy, I’ve literally been in my classroom everyday and continue working at home getting things ready. Thankfully, I have a family wedding this coming weekend and will be forced to take a break.

The room can only be so ready until the children arrive. After that, they will determine how much of the room will be decorated. Their work highlighted, how it will be displayed, etc. Until then, though, I just want to make sure it is welcoming and all will feel like the room belongs to them.

As with new buildings, there are tons of questions and not always answers. We’ll really only start to get some of those answers once kids arrive. And sometimes a decision maker will say “no”, another will say, “yes,” and they might both change their minds.

The title refers not to the clothes and usual classroom supplies, but rather to the countless trips to Ikea, Target, and other budget stores to make sure you stretch your budget and manage to get your classroom looking ready. I even made my own piece of furniture for the kids to play with Lego when there’s a rainy day recess. There’s still a flag to buy (and holder), I suddenly had this crazy idea to turn a post into a tasteful looking poet tree, but will need to figure out how to do it before embarking on it, and where does one go to buy cushions for benches? The dimensions are 48″ by 14″. I’ve got some on one bench that work, but I need to learn how to sew velcro into the cushions. As you can see from my picture below, I’ll be using magnets for my calendar, but when sticking on numbers, I ran out of 2s. At least I’ll have until the 24th to go back to the art store.

We have a day left to put our classrooms together. Then, it’s meetings and planning curriculum. I really want to have my room ready and out of mind by the end of tomorrow, but that’s very unlikely. Trying to pay attention to a workshop on sustainability will be difficult if I am still thinking if the schedule for the kids should be to the right or the left of the white board.

As it is, I’ve left myself with a very ambitious ‘welcome back’ bulletin board, but I’m excited as it not only welcomes the kids to the room, but will also teach about sustainability and natural energy. I’ve only used materials that have either come from the recycle bin, or deep in storage so that it can be repurposed, before disappearing again into the depths. I’ll try and post a picture of it if I ever get it finished.

A few numbers missing.

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4 thoughts on “Back to School Shopping

  1. I really enjoyed reading this entry, Anthony! I hear you saying that you are being stretched professionally as never before. That’s a good thing for all of us in this field. I think moving to a new place leads us out of comfortable ruts and routines into more innovative thinking and risk-taking. Perhaps you don’t need to have your room as “ready” as you did in the past. I hear you saying that your students will get to create this room, after all, it belongs to all of you. As my mom often used to say, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” We have a new building. We are learning new ways. I’m thinking that the “innovation” side of our school mission statement will now receive some opportunity to flourish amid all the wonderful traditions. Here’s to one of our best school years yet!

  2. I think you capture the pushes and pulls of this fascinating and tricky first week. I’ve enjoyed watching the different way teachers prepare. Who bites off big chunks, who focusses on labelling vs. book cataloguing. Don’t look in y cupboards–My filing is usually stuff in a cupboard and hope…:)!
    Good Luck this week!

    • @ Matt – There are many pushes and pulls indeed and I know everyone has them to varying degrees and for different reasons. I am impressed how well everyone is keeping their spirits up and trying to find a way to make light of, what for some of us, may be heavy issues. I guess that’s what a punch list is for?

      @ David – you didn’t get to move into your room until a week after me and you are one of those with the best perspectives on this whole thing. If you need help, you know I’m just around a corner and up a few stairs.

  3. As a parent whose been in the new building 3 times in the past week, I’ve been amazed at how the individual teachers have quickly transformed stacks of boxes and simple furniture (through hard work, creativity and some IKEA splashes of color) into beautiful, dynamic classrooms. The fact that none of the rooms are square (and they also lack the big, blank walls of my school days) provides interesting challenges and opportunities for creating sub-spaces within the larger spaces. As evidenced by the jaw-dropping reactions at the event last night, you all have done an amazing job. The sense of anticipation and excitement is palpable – for the teachers, parents and students. Everyone better get a good night’s sleep before Tuesday!!

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