Don’t Look Now

…but if your classroom isn’t nearly ready, it’s going to be too late.  At least in our district, because teachers report back to work on Tuesday.  It’s an all day marathon of district- and school-wide professional development, followed by VISIT YOUR TEACHER day.  So if your classroom isn’t ready, hide what needs to be hidden, because they are COMING.

I do look forward to this visit.  Not surprisingly, I have it orchestrated so that the students enter with their parents, receive a warm greeting from me, and then find explicit instructions on their desks.  The list tells them exactly what to do with each supply they’ve brought, and what to do if they’re planning to bring supplies on the first day of school  (which, BTW, is not my preference).  There’s also a very short project of sorts to complete – an All About Me sheet that, when finished, becomes our first bulletin board.  The last instruction on that list is, “Hand your project to Mrs. Tonnessen and say goodbye.”  And that’s it!  The kids and parents are busy, I’m free to circulate and chat, and there is an end point – which means I’m not hosting until the wee hours of the afternoon.  And if their paperwork remains on their desk, I can see that they weren’t able to visit – and that’s ok too.

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Placing papers on desks, rather than in individual mailboxes or cubbies, is my teacher hack for today.  Many teachers have a separate mailbox center in their classroom with slots for individual students.  They place the paperwork in the correct slot and at some given point during the day, the students visit the mailbox and retrieve their papers.  For me, it’s unnecessary.  First of all, those mailboxes take up too much space that I’d rather appropriate for something else.  Secondly, they take up too much time.  The teacher has to call small groups of students to the mailbox, because they can’t all be crowding around it at once.  Then they have to carry the paperwork to their desks and place it in their folders.  Putting things directly on desks eliminates those steps.  They enter the classroom in the morning, after lunch, and after related arts, and usually find papers on their desks.  Papers go right in the folder, which goes right in the desk and voila.  Mission accomplished.  I  must admit – it’s one of those things that I think to myself, “Why doesn’t everyone do this??”

Now, if you’re reading this and you do use mailboxes, it’s not a dig.  You probably love your mailbox center for other reasons, just as I love certain things in my classroom that you see no need for.  That’s the beauty of the teaching world – we can see that there are other ways of doing things, and we can choose to try those ways or not.  NBD.  (no big deal – an acronym that’s almost as popular as LOL).

Tomorrow’s Labor Day.  I will spend it doing the opposite of labor, so as to save my energy for what follows.  I will also spend it trying to cope with the anticipation and apprehension that always accompany a new school year.  Did you ever read “First Day Jitters?”  It’s about a class on the first day of school, and throughout the book you think that it’s the students who are jittery.  But the punchline is that the teacher is the one who’s experiencing FDJ. (First Day Jitters – an acronym that will most likely never catch on). Because teachers are people too!

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