Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Sleepless in Calgary

It's 4:33 am. I've been up for about one hour; I can't sleep. Yesterday I couldn't sleep either. So, instead of lying in bed trying to count sheep I decided to do some work.

We have three teacher days to get ready before the children arrive. Are there other professionals that have three days to set up their workspace, on their own, so that on the fourth day they are prepared to greet their clients?? Do any of them have to do this year after year? No need to answer.

Yesterday was my first day back at school. We spent the morning in a staff meeting, and for half the afternoon my grade level group sorted the classroom materials we ordered at the end of June. I couldn't remember why we ordered some of the materials that were on our list and right now I can't think of a single use for anything in my room. I'm drawing a blank and the kids arrive in two days. Every year I get numb during the first few days back in the building and then I'm off and running. This year I haven't had time to ease into a new school year; I was with my family helping my second child move into her first year of college in Boston. My husband and oldest daughter are still there while I'm home trying to sort out the pieces and get ready to greet a new group of students.

I try to remain calm as I go through all the beginning-of-the-year details I must attend to:

--setting up a library area
--seating - what arrangements do I want?
--my teacher space so that I don't spread out all over the room
--bulletin boards - where and for what?
--meeting area
--where to put the materials my students will use
--what to store and what to display
--routines and procedures
--remembering to take mind breaks.

I could go on and on; there are so many things to consider before the students arrive and as the year goes on. But, I am reminded to keep my focus on my goal - to put the children at the center of everything I do. One of the most important things I will do during the first couple of days is to begin the process of establishing positive relationships with each of my students. As I create my classroom space and design my lessons for the first few days I want my students to understand what's important in our classroom. The layout of the room and the choices they have now will give them a glimpse into the kinds of classroom we can create this year; the possibilities are endless.

It's true that writing allows us to discover what we know and to work out problems we may be experiencing. As I write these words, I am starting to get excited. My motto for this year will be: Our classroom is a place where we enjoy learning about the world and ourselves. Now, I think I'm ready.
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