Lori, my student teacher, who I will now refer to as a friend and a 2nd grade teacher at my school, called me up and asked if I wanted to go to school with her to check out her new classroom. Hearing the excitement in her voice, and reflecting back on that time for myself, I first responded with, "For how long?" and then with a "Yes." Being only one week out, I wasn't anxious to get back to school, but wanted to go support her and share in her enthusiasm for what comes. You see, the goal for every teacher should be to keep that energy throughout their entire career. With that, they will put everything they have into teaching and the year spent with each student will be worthwhile and meaningful.
We entered her classroom this morning. The teacher graciously left behind a lot of teaching materials and helpful tools; however, like my classroom when I got it, there is a lot of sorting through and cleaning to do. I sat on a pod of desks and just looked around at all of the stuff. Immediately, trash cans were brought into the room and we began to dump. We filled up two large cans and then decided she would have to come back several days to really put a dent into it. When I got my classroom, the teacher was retiring. He didn't have a desk, but a couch. He didn't have a table for reading group, but pillows for the kids to sit on. Nice for reading, but not necessarily for teaching. Everything was kind of thrown in the cabinets. I came in two days a week, and completely emptied the cabinets one by one, threw away what I wouldn't use and neatly put back in what I would use. I took home projects to organize in front of the T.V. including whole punching calendar pieces and putting them in order and in Ziploc bags by the month. I brought in cleaning products and cleaned off shelves. I bought baskets to put things in. I bought shelves. I bought paint and painted where it needed - now we have great building managers that will help with this. Without trying to overwhelm Lori, and I know she is reading this, I tried to tell her that I spent all summer doing this for my room to get it the way it is.
Unless you're a teacher, you probably don't think about what goes into creating the perfect atmosphere for our children to learn, but it is our job as teachers. The best part about stepping into her classroom this morning was watching her creativity start to flow and a learning environment form out of her imagination, all for her students. It is a blank slate. She will make it a masterpiece.