06 September 2015

Classroom Setup

Here we are again.  A new school year.  You would think that by now (I'm beginning my 16th year), that I would be used to this. I have had fifteen previous first days; I should be somewhat of a pro but on some level, each new first day seems like the first ever.  I already know some of my students but there are many I don't.  How will they be? Will they be eager to learn Italian? Will we be able to establish a quick rapport like I've done with so many students before? How long before the newness wears off and we're all in a place we feel at home, where we belong?

Unlike previous years, my restless sleep wasn't entirely due to my impending return to school.  This year, my wife is joining me in my school district as a teacher in the elementary school.  Now, she's been teaching for longer than I have been but never in the same school district.  Because everything happened so quickly-- her interview and getting the job all in the week before school started- we were scrambling a little to get her classroom set up. As I drove to just about every Wal-Mart, Target, Dollar Tree and teacher store on Long Island, I realized just how important the setup of an elementary classroom is.  On the secondary level, I had always done a pretty decent job and had even tried to make my room look inviting.  It made me feel like I was welcoming the students as best I could even though many of these teenagers rarely took notice of the room.  The elementary classroom is a whole different ball game.  Not only should it be inviting and welcoming but it has to have purpose.  It has to be put together well in a way that will help facilitate learning. It has to attract the right attention at the right time.

Here's my best attempt at classroom decoration:

My wife has been using Pinterest for some time now, pinning away happily.  I have been trying so hard to become proficient at using Twitter for the past year or so and starting my blog that to even attempt to look at Pinterest could send me over the edge.  As it is, I am usually on information overload.  In these past few weeks, I have taken a peek at Pinterest and what it has to offer.  I am nowhere near proficient.  To say the least, I am overwhelmed just looking at it but... there are some really great ideas out there.  There aren't too many for a high school Italian teacher but maybe I'll just have to squirrel away a few minutes a day to add some of my own materials when I'm ready.  I wasn't really looking for myself so much anyhow. I really wanted to help my wife out because I am somewhat responsible for this very swift change in jobs.

Holy cow is there a lot of information out there. Some of these classroom designs need a whole team of architects, carpenters and possibly some elves to make it happen. Coming from the high school, I have to admit it was a little much. But, all the teachers seem to be doing it; turning their ordinary four walls into an oasis of learning just oozing with cuteness and happiness. As I tried to sleep the nights before school began, my brain started racing and I could see tons of Pinterest boards appearing before me with ideas of what to do the first days of school and how to decorate your room. I couldn't sleep. I started counting backwards from a hundred and inevitably something else would pop in and I'd lose my count.

I don't think I'm ready to really get into Pinterest and I'm almost afraid to. Seeing all of those ideas really gave me a new-found appreciation for the elementary teachers.  Kudos to you for posting some amazing ideas and also for having the patience to scour the Pinterest boards in search of setting up the perfect classroom.

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