Saturday, September 1, 2007

Feels Like Home To Me - Setting Up

It was back to work on Thursday which began with kisses, hugs, sweet hellos and friendly exchanges of summer 'doings' with my colleagues. All is fresh again with the start of another school year like it is after a cleansing summer rain. Small hurts and annoyances of only a few months ago are washed away as all is forgiven with our revitalized energy and fresh outlook.

I was particularly happy to be reunited with my co-teacher Lauren. This is our sixth year working as a team and our fifth year teaching first grade together. We have been lucky enough to stay in the same room throughout which makes these first two days of set up a tad easier. Everything we need is already in the room but over the summer it is all moved about while the floors are cleaned and waxed. Stepping back into the mess is both exciting and daunting. Exciting because there are new possibilities; "How will we arrange the space this year?", "What do we see as the best environment for our incoming students?" And daunting when we ponder; "How can we possibly get all of this looking polished in just two days while at the same time attend to school business issues and orientation meetings?"

Of course staying late is unavoidable but as the process slowly unfolded the vision for our room became manifest in small ways. New work areas, little niches for independent study or one to one conferences, smooth flow of foot traffic across the various centers, easily accessible books and references materials and ample space for both large and small gatherings.

I wanted to document the transformation as it happened so I took some before and after shots. We have a large classroom as is evident from these pictures so we are blessed in that way. The first four shots are of one section of the room that we see as an area for small group work.

This is how the room looked when we first arrived.

Early on in the second day things began to shape up.

This is how I left it yesterday. Still not perfect and lacking the finishing touches such as paper on the bulletin boards but enough of a clean slate from which to begin.

This area is for our large group meetings and interactions as well as art projects.

We enjoy the open feel of this space and hope that it is both comforting for the children and practical.

This is how things looked when I decided that I could not do anymore yesterday. I am sure that Tuesday will find things shifting and finding new homes. Nothing is written in stone and the rest will take shape according to the demands and needs of our students.


Joy said...

What?! - no mini-Parthenon playhouse for the Greek Mythology lessons? Ah well, maybe as the term progresses. :)

Nice job!

Junk Thief said...

Good luck with the new school year. Hope you get some rest during the holiday. I still want to go back to elemtary school and be your student. I bet I would learn a lot more than I did from Mrs. Fugate and Mrs. Amrein.

lettuce said...

yes good luck. that looks like a lovely welcoming fun restful space to be in, lucky kids to have it - and you.

Salty Miss Jill said...

I'm excited for you! Just wait when all the chipmunks come rushing back and see their classroom and wonderful about big love!

That Ms. Spider rug is adorable. ;)

Reya Mellicker said...

Those kids are so lucky! I would love to one of your students, though, I think it might be too late since I entered first grade in 1959.


I salute you, dah-ling!

kimy said...

the kiddos will thrive in that wonderful space with such caring teachers. have fun tuesday getting to know each other!

la bellina mammina said...

Wow! You did a great job - and on the first day of school too!
Good luck:-)

Florecita said...

New school year and new blessing for all of you: teachers, students, parents, directors...

Isn't great to see them grow and learn!!!!!! I'll start creative movement classes next week, and I love to see how their evolution!

Blessings to teachers all over the world!!!

ciara said...

hi gary-
la bellina mammina told me i should check out your blog. i'm glad i did. it's so wonderful that you are part of shaping kids' lives. and we all know how rewarding that can be. :) the room looks fabulous. my kids just started a school that was spose to be finished 3 wks ago, but wasn't. waited 2 wks extra and tho the kids are back to school it's still under construction. the kids have very limited area for recess and p.e.

anyways, if u don't mind i'd like to drop bye again.

Dumdad said...

Good luck with the new school year. It's la rentrée here as well. My two kids start back at school on Tuesday. (Why Tuesday? So French!)

Gary said...

Alas Joy, construction has yet to begin on the Parthenon as we encounter delay after delay. Frustrating really but to be expected.

Mr. Thief it would be an honor to have the young junkette in my class had things worked out differently. Such is life my friend. It seems as though there is no love lost for Mrs. Fugate and Mrs. Amrein, but I could be reading into that. :) Thanks for the good wishes.

Lettuce - Thank you so very much.

Miss Salty - That Miss Spider's Tea Party rug is the only one like it in the school. I had it ordered especially for my class when I taught preschool and it has followed me ever since. The only draw back is it is about eight years old and has been exposed to lots of know what I mean?

Reya - At ease. (Get it? It's a salute reference.)

Kimy you can be sure that I will be writing MUCH more about this. And I have some very exciting news that I will share this coming week!

La Bellina - Thanks.

Florecita - What lovely words. Good luck with your class as well.

Ciara - Welcome. I hope you do stop by again! You know in my experience when a school has limited space it is always something related to the arts or exercise that suffers. The higher ups need to realize that if the kids can't get some release from the core studies they are unable to give their full attention. Kids learn best when they are fed and happy. Seems obvious, no?

Dad - Students in New York City return to school on Tuesday as well. Now I feel very French. :) Good luck your kids.

justawriter said...

You did a wonderful job!Excellent environment. The classrooms here in Greece are quite fact we had a teacher's meeting yesterday and I made some suggestions on how to make the classrooms more inviting to our students.I should show your pics to the principal :)Hope you have a great school year Gary! Tina

Gary said...

Tina - Thanks, but don't show him yet. I have a few more improvments up my sleeve such as adding more mirrors and some light cotton gauze curtains on the windows. Laruen and I tweaked the room a bit today and it is really shaping up.

laurenbove said...

What a great space! You are doing wonders with it. Lauren's lucky to have such a great teaching partner.

cheers and good luck!


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