Saturday, August 05, 2006

A New Year Has Begun

Yesterday was the first day of school for parents, teachers, and students in my school district. It seemed from the many discussions at our Open House Thursday night that students have become bored, parents were tired of trying to entertain their children, and most teachers would be happy with just another week to feel fully prepared.

The school year is here, however, whether we want it or not.

I can't believe I haven't posted in almost a week. Since Monday I have been in meetings, and have frantically attempted to clean and arrange my classroom for the best learning environment I can. My team has worked well together attempting to shuffle resources around so they are in the proper room.

A colleage of mine, our music teacher, told me Thursday he felt like a gerbil on one of those exercise wheels. Spinning, spinning, spinning, and not really getting anywhere. I have to agree with him. By the time I had gotten home after Open House Thursday night I had been at school for a total of thirteen hours( just that one day). I couldn't even put together a coherent sentence I was so tired.

This is a view of my room from the hallway door as I began to put my room back together.


This is the same view minutes before parents and students arrived for Open House.


This view is also from the hallway door, but it looks towards the back of my classroom where I have a very extensive classroom library for students. I have over 500 books that I have brought from home as my children tired of them or that I have bought myself.


Here is the same view after I worked my tail off. I placed all three of my computers along the wall to make more space to move above the room.


This view is looking towards the hallway door and is taken from behind my desk. All of my individual units are packed within the plastic tubs you see. The binder that holds my lesson plans, extra copies that didin't get used the last time I taught the unit, accompanying teacher resource books, tradebooks, etc. all fit nicely in the tubs. Each tub is labeled with the unit name such as "Civil War/Reconstruction", "Native American Regions", or "American Revolution". Some units are so large I use two or three tubs to hold everything.


Here is the after picture.


The teachers on my hall were all making these cute little hallway displays to welcome new students and place student names outside their doors. Elementaryhistoryteacher is not into cute little cutesies. I admire them, but just don't seem to do them myself.

The last year I taught fifth grade my teaching partner from across the hall had the language arts students write letters to teachers who had impacted their elementary years. Several chose me and this colleage took the letters and the student's self-portraits and laminated them onto construction paper. The group of students presented these to me the last few days of school. I treasure them and make it a tradition to haul them out from the protective case stacked on top of my classroom closet and display them for Open House. Occaisionly one of the students show up with a younger brother or sister and they are surprised to see their work on the wall. I place a caption with them that states "Elementaryhistoryteacher is kid-tested and board approved!". It fills up the wall along with my new homeroom list.


The mother of this particular student who wrote me a letter teaches in the lower grades at my school. I told her she needed to come to my end of the campus to see her child's work. She said she would and advised that her young man has just gotten his learner's permit. Wow! I'm old.


Yesterday morning another colleage of mine who works with our special education students brought her son in before taking him to the middle school to start his eighth grade year. I gave him a good squeeze and realized he could now see the top of my head with gray hairs scattered here and there. I didn't have my glasses on and had to stand on tip-toe to see the shadow that stretched along his upper lip. My new view confirmed it for me. It was no shadow, but the faint beginnings of a mustache.

It was the perfect beginning for a new year. Brand new students making the transformation from third graders to fourth graders, and a reminder that time marches on for former students after they have left me.


Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your room pictures. Very cool. Love the "before" and "after". Also, I love-love-love your idea for the welcome outside the classroom. Past kids praise of you is a great idea -- let's the new kids know that maybe there's hope this year that they'll feel that good about you by the end of the year. Very cool. And, the added value of letting former students and parents of former students reminisce about the good old days. Very cool idea!

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

The proof is in the photos: You were working all week! Nice job, EHT. The parents and students have no idea what goes on behind the scenes. Pat yourself on the back and squeeze in some rest over what's left of the weekend: Monday's comin' quicker than you think!

Butterfly Angel said...

I was beginning to wonder about you! What CTG said is true, folks don't have a clue. Your photos have given me some ideas on how to set up my room for the new year. Monday is just around the bend for you and me.


EHT said...

Thanks llm for visiting and a huge thanks for your comments.

Yes, CTG, Monday is coming sooner than we think but I did manage to go have a nice dinner with hubby tonight.

Butterfly Angel, I normally have kids in rows all facing the same direction, but with the push in my my state for more differentiated instruction I wanted to go towards various types of grouping activities and thought this would work better. The jury is still out, however, as I had to take conduct cuts THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. Can you believe it!?

NYC Educator said...

Cute little cuteness is a major requirement for elementary teachers in NYC, for whom bulletin boards are more crucial than certain minor deities.

Living in the South sounds very good, except for the part about going back to work in the beginning of August. We're going back on the 31st, due to an awful new notract, but previously cshool has never begun before Labor Day.

HappyChyck said...

Your before and after picts are so wonderful! I'm so happy to meet non-cute elementary teacher. When I taught high school I was too cute because I actually put up colorful posters on my walls. Now that I am in middle school, teaching with many elementary trained teachers, I am such a decorating dud in comparison.

Q's Personal Legend said...

I swear we MUST be in the same county!!

Best of luck on the new year!!

Andrew Pass said...

I hope you have a great year. Remember to have fun!! I also wanted to let you know that I'm trying something new with my blog. I'm posting a different teaching idea every day. These teaching ideas all revolve around a newspaper article. On Saturday I posted about the winner of the Tour De France and suggested several ideas that could be done in classes. Today I posted about a series run in the L.A. Times about pollution. I'm hoping that teachers find these posts useful and comment to make them even better. I figured as yoiu begin the year, you might be interested in taking a look at it.

Andrew Pass

Meredith said...

Hooray for you, getting so much done so quickly! I know how hard it is to get a room up and going. Things look beautiful the way you have them; I always tell my kids, "A clean job site is a happy job site."

p.s. The bulletin board is awesome. I love your heading!

EHT said...

Thanks for all the great complements. Andrew, I will stop by for a visit, and Q here's a hint....there are two r's in my system name.

Q's Personal Legend said...

Nope, no r's in mine, but I think we are within an hour of each other!

Duez said...

Great post. I'll be doing something similar tomorrow when I post pictures of my newly constructed classroom.

School begins for us on Monday. And it is time for the new 3 R's: Rigor, Relevance and Relationships. Ye haw!