Wow. How in the world could I forget how the first days of school tend to be? Well, here I am on a path with 37 (yes, 37) new fourth graders. In a room that seats 22 comfortably. I was told today that I will probably get one more student, but absolutely no more than that. Hmmm.
This time last year, there were around thirty fourth graders in my room at any given time. I can definitely tell the difference.
My room has tables, and it is impossible to arrange the furniture so that all of the children are facing me. No matter the configuration, someone has his back to me when I have this many children — a big no-no, as every teacher realizes.
So, by the end of the day, custodians delivered six desks to accompany the six tables already in place. The technology teacher came by and removed two computers so I could use that table space for students. We moved the printer to my teacher desk.
I’m not sure where my team will sit for meetings. It looks like my interns will be monitoring instruction from a chair with a clipboard because every inch of space is dedicated, as it should be, for the kids. Still…it looked so nice and spacious a few days ago. I am mourning that loss of space.
What I have now is a mess. Truly. My classroom is now a maze of desks and tables and pathways so that I can maneuver in and out. I stayed late today to try to make sure every student will be facing me in the morning, to make sure that the larger students have room to spread out. I have a group of desks front and center. We all know who will be sitting there.
There is not one student I would choose to leave. I’m attached to them all after only two days. Oh, we will have quite the year, but my biggest disappointment today was not in having more students. It was in not having the room I needed.
I am accustomed to having six neat rectangular tables. Each table has three containers: one for books, one for supplies, one for folders and notebooks. Everything is color coordinated. I think my students thrive on that structure and neatness. I know I cope better when things are organized.
Now, I have desks and tables. I am going to have a hodgepodge of containers for the children’s materials. All the work and time preparing and labeling got turned upside down today, just the second day of the school year. Nothing matches any longer.
But as I pushed desks and tables around my room and lifted chairs over my head to navigate the newest path, I remembered part of a quotation I read this summer about creativity and positive change: “Great changes are preceded by chaos.” My room applies.
There is no telling what great changes are ahead, but I have the chaos part down pat.
The perfect little room with labeled tables and containers is gone. We are going to have to make the best of the new reality. The kids saw the extra furniture arriving as they were in an adjoining room this afternoon. Squeals of excitement filled the air.
“You are strong,” one child said as he saw me pass by with a chair over my head. It helped to hear that, and I am clinging to the double message.
Perfectionism has never worked for me anyway. Looks like unplanned eclectic is the new reality for 2012-13. Lord, help me.