Starting to Unpack and Set Up

 A couple of weeks ago I walked into my newly cleaned classroom (the same one as last year which is delightful as I’ve had four rooms in the past four years). I stood around, wandered slowly, reflected on the space. Then I started moving furniture. I may end up moving things around again, but I walked away that day feeling pretty good.

For the first time in my nearly 20 years of teaching, I’m trying my table in the middle of the room rather than in a corner. As I’m only at my table when I’m working with groups, I like the idea of being centered (somewhat) there. It’ll also require that I keep things more organized as I won’t have anywhere to just drop piles of stuff…

I want the space to be as flexible as possible so that the kids own it quickly. My walls will stay blank for us to fill together. There will be no names on tables as the kids will decide where they want to work at any given moment.

The next time I was in the room I wanted to get rolling with unpacking and organizing but I had trouble getting started. I’m in the midst of an internal struggle over my classroom library (a significant percentage of what needs to be unpacked). I want the students to organize it but that is time consuming. I’m trying to figure out how best to make that work. So I didn’t touch those boxes.

I also have a lot of boxes of books I keep for read alouds and mentor texts. I need to cull those as I have far more than I can use. That’s an intimidating task so I didn’t tackle it either.

Instead, I worked on small areas of the room. This is our Wonder Window. I didn’t use it well last year so I’m working on how to make it a more useful, interesting, appealing space this year (and how to fit it into our days).

This will organize our different kinds of papers for writing, allowing students to choose what works best for them at any given time.

Our math materials are ready too, along with strategy games. We didn’t use the strategy games at all last year. I’m hoping having them out and available will increase the chances we do so this year!

There’s a lot of thought at the start of each year about what should be out, visible, and easily accessible. We have bean bags and spinny chairs that lived in our closet last year. We got them out during reading time but not any other time of the day. I want them more easily accessible this year so that students feel more comfortable grabbing them anytime.

This room isn’t mine, it’s ours. We’ll spend a lot of time in it together all year and it needs to work for us all. So I’m working through how to have it ‘ready’ for day one but also ready for the kids to adapt, change, and make their own.

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