Friday, August 5, 2011

Spaces & Places

As I mentioned, this year I am moving from upper elementary to lower. With this change in grades comes a classroom move. I've been spoiled the last three years because I stayed in the same classroom. I put a lot of time and work into that classroom each year, but this will be different.

In my last classroom, the teacher retired and left a lot (read: everything) of stuff. It was so nice of her...
     ...but, can I say (without sounding ungrateful) it was a curse in addition to being a blessing? There was so. much. stuff.

In addition to some really awesome, useful stuff, there was a ton of outdated and completely useless material to anyone but that teacher (like notes she took at conferences from 10+ years ago). There was also a lot of random collections of 'things'. For example, I found hundreds of empty pill bottles that she had obviously been saving for years. Being only a second-year teacher at the time, I felt like I couldn't get rid of anything. I kept thinking, "Well, Mrs. Legendary-Teacher-of-Many-Years kept this for a reason... so I should keep it and figure out a use for it."

After my first year in that classroom, I figured out that while she might have had a perfect reason for certain things, I didn't. If I couldn't figure out a way to use something, I recycled, gave away, or got rid of it. I got rid of huge cabinets and shelves that were just taking up space. It felt really good to weed out the classroom so it could truly be not only my classroom, but my current students' classroom. The maintenance staff even painted my room in beautiful colors I chose last summer!
The walls were turquoise and the lockers were coral. I'm really going to miss this!

Now I'm moving onto another classroom with the same sort of circumstances. There was another legendary teacher that taught first/second for years and acquired a lot of stuff. When she retired, I think the next teacher felt the same as I did in my classroom, "If Mrs. Legendary kept it, I better keep it!" I'm thinking I might have a lot of organizing ahead of me!

I'll admit I'm a bit daunted with the work ahead. To prepare, I bought and read this book:
It is wonderful. It's perfect for first-year teachers, five-year teachers (me!), or veteran teachers of many years. Not only did I get ideas for arranging the room, but also for things to do throughout the space. One message Ms. Diller really got through to me* was to get rid of stuff I don't/won't use. I might even get rid of my teacher desk! I've been downsizing every year, but getting rid of my desk will be big for me!

*I also purchased Debbie Diller's new book, Math Work Stations, and I've heard she has the same message of getting rid of excess math materials. I can't wait to read it!

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