For the last 3 years (I've been a teacher for 6, yet only teaching for 3 - whole other story) I have spent so much time and energy setting up a new classroom. This isn't just including the material things, like the bins for workbooks, table bins with supplies, it's so much more. I want my room to be inviting for the children, so here is a glimpse at all that it takes for me to prepare: climbing up a ladder to put up bulletin board paper and borders in those hard to reach places - this is physically exhausting when done alone (which is almost always the case), rearranging desks (sometimes including the table height), shelves, organizing books, materials, writing out the poem of the week, posting inviting posters around the walls, etc.
It is so important to me to create a space for learning that is inviting for my students - it needs to be calm yet stimulating in just the right way, it needs to provoke creativity and a desire to learn, it needs to make them feel safe and respected. For me, it takes some mental preparation and I usually rearrange the furniture about 100 times before it's just right for the year. It's like classroom feng shui. My classroom is made up of colours of purple, blue and green - my three favourite colours...not actually allowed to have 3 according to most children...but I like to bend the rules ;)
Sometimes I feel like pulling my hair out during the process of setting up my class and perhaps I shed a few tears of exhaustion but in the end it feels good - because of "the moment".
The moment when...those little faces see their classroom, their desk, when they soak up the excitement for another year - it's totally worth all of the effort that I put in. It really is amazing to see the children become so excited for a new classroom and eager to learn. The back to school buzz is pretty awesome.
Back to the 'behind the scenes' part of this blog...the amount of work that goes in on the teachers behalf is pretty much endless...Besides setting up my classroom, preparing notebooks, name cards, pencil bins, etc. I've spent about 2 hours a day over the long weekend getting some things ready for the first week. I've made play-doh, a little treat for the teachers, first day activities, day plans, I've laminated, I've gathered, I've meditated on just the right welcoming for my little ones this year, I've worked on a calendar, I've gone supply shopping, and literally dotted my i's and crossed my t's with all that I can think of. Will it be enough? It never is in teaching. There is always something to do, plan, prepare...it's the nature of the job. Do I love it? Bottom line - yes I do - I even get excited about back to school and planning for my students. Is it hard work? You bet it is...Will I sleep tonight? Probably not...I'll be playing over the day in my mind and stressing over whether I've forgotten something.
So for all you parents out there who have excited little children tonight...know that the teachers are excited too...we won't sleep well either, and I hope you respect that. We won't sleep because we are preparing for how best we can care for your children this school year...how we can transform their lives and bring magic to life ;)
Wishing all you little ones and your families a happy first week of school!!!