My first view of my classroom at the end of summer.
To the left, all of the boxes and storage bins, pillows and blankets, curriculum materials and units of study, crammed together and off the floor in June so that cleaning could happen while we were gone.
In the middle of the room, the desks – too many? not enough? – in rows, organized by a well-meaning custodian. (As we know, rows are not part of education these days, in most classrooms; I only do rows during standardized testing.) Just across the room, the corresponding chairs are stacked together, three and four high.
At the back of the room, what I won’t let myself focus on right now: those bulletin boards that must be filled. Why didn’t I set them up in June again? Oh, yes – I was desperate to get out of here. And somewhere to the right, out of the range of this photograph, are the bookshelves that had to be emptied for cleaning (did they really?) and thus must be reorganized every. single. year.
It is, quite simply, overwhelming.
I start with the seating, as always; I need to get chairs under desks and desks in groups in order for me to get a visual in my head of what the students themselves will look like in them. Should I do small groups of three and four, or larger groups of five and six? What are my numbers again? 22, 23, 24. So how will the configuration I’m setting up work with each class?
We’ve been told not to drag the desks and chairs, so as not to damage the newly waxed floors – yet if we don’t do it, who will, with 40-plus classrooms in the building? The table legs stick to the floor, and the chairs stick to each other. I begin to wrestle with them, yanking them as needed, fighting to get them in place. I move them here – then, there. I angle them. I push my desk in place – I certainly can’t lift it. I’m sweating – is the air on? – as I begin to create a space that I, and the students I don’t yet know, can live with.
How do you feel when you first step into your classroom? Where do you begin?