Like most teachers, my classroom was dissembled in June so the custodians could give it a thorough (term used very loosely!) cleaning over the summer. When August rolls around, it’s time to put it all back together again. This takes me a while. Like a really long while. Like a way too long while. Like an “Aren’t you done yet?” while. So many decisions to make! What should I keep? Pass on? Toss? Rearrange? The room changes every year. One thing doesn’t change, though — the space I set up first.
As soon as I return to my classroom, and after I re-re-re-re-rearrange the furniture, the same spot gets gussied up first. It’s not a big space, and it doesn’t take long, but it’s always first. It’s not an important, educationally innovative space, but it needs to be first. I’m not sure what would happen if it wasn’t first. It’s kind of a feel-good space, and I’m not sure who benefits from it more — me or my students? Setting it up grounds me, recalibrates me to the rhythms of the school year. It’s a talisman of sorts, I guess. As soon as it’s ready I can move on.
The bookcase with my personal kidlit collection is my zone. The “World of Leo Lionni” mural goes up first. It was painted for me in 1998 by the Kindergarten class I student taught in. It was a post-author study thank you gift that I will always treasure. On the right front corner is a stack of beginner reader books from the 60s.
They are simple texts with just a few words — “Ann likes red. Red, red, red.” I loved these books when I was young and read them over and over again. I would never part with them, but I’m thrilled today’s early readers are greatly improved! Last to go up on the shelf are a few stuffed pals. Some are literary friends from my childhood and others are new additions.
Old friends: Corduroy, Madeline, Pippi, Paddington, Pooh, and Piglet bring back very happy memories of being read to as a child by my mom, dad, and grandfather.
New friends: Pigeon, Elmer, Linnea, Gingy, and Grouchy Ladybug are new pals whose adventures we share in my Kindergarten classroom.
The shelf is ready, so now it’s time to move forward. Do you unpack as soon as you get to a hotel room, even if it’s just for a night or two? Yeah, me too.
Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving me the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life each Tuesday. And for giving me a break from setting up my classroom. Won’t you join us?