The Countdown to School Begins

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because my red pen is a little rusty from two months of disuse.

As I crawled into bed last night, my final thought before falling asleep was, “School starts three weeks from tomorrow.”

Yikes. Where did the summer go?

To be completely accurate, school actually starts, for me, three weeks from yesterday. But students start on September 4th. Given that time frame, and given that I have to completely set up a new classroom from scratch, I decided I’d best get my butt in gear.

This is going to be a year of big changes for me. About two weeks before the end of last school year, I found out I was changing grade levels. This meant that not only was I leaving second grade for sixth, I would also be changing buildings. I will not deny that there was a great deal of shock and perhaps a few tears on my part. I’d worked in the elementary school for nine years – two as a teaching assistant, and seven as a teacher. If you count the fact that I did my first student teaching placement there, it was really more like ten years.

That’s a long time to work in a school building, to develop a sense of not only camaraderie with your coworkers, but also a sense of family. Together, we went through the ups and downs of Reading First, two huge construction projects that required the relocation of classrooms to unaffected parts of the building, retirements of teachers and a principal, two reading curriculum changes within ten years of each other, and the ever changing, ever stressful advent of Common Core Curriculum Standards.

Once I got my head around the fact that this move was actually happening, I then had to figure out where to begin packing up seven years’ worth of teaching paraphernalia. June 20th found me standing in the middle of my second grade classroom, surrounded by pencil-smudged desks and empty cardboard boxes into which I would have to pack my teaching career.

A coworker and friend poked her head into my room. “Need any help?”

My response? “I’m not sure where to start.”

But I did start. I didn’t finish in an afternoon as I’d hoped. It took another full day of packing to get all my personal belongings sorted out from school and grade level materials. I had ten boxes of classroom library books alone. Another five or six held the rest of my stuff. (I guess that hints to you how I prioritize personal classroom spending.) And as I stood there, staring at my boxes and bins and baskets, I could only send up a prayer that everything would make it over to the middle school without getting lost in the shuffle.

Were there more tears? You bet. It was a sad moment. But then I turned off my lights and went home, determined not to think about it until August.

Well, August is here now. I’ve had a few days of training on the new Common Core Curricula for math and ELA, and I snagged copies of the social studies books I’ll be using.

Did I mention that I get to teach World History this year? Not just a little bit of exposure here and there. Like, actually teach World History. The only thing that could make that sentence better is if World History was replaced with American History. *squees and flails*

I’m starting to get excited. The kids coming up to sixth grade this year are my second class of kindergarteners and my second class of second graders. There are a handful I’ve had twice already, and even if I didn’t have them, they know who I am. That’s what happens when you teach, by the way. You become a sort of celebrity to the kids who’ve gone through your classroom. I’m hoping that the fact that I’m not a stranger to these kids will help us get off on a really good foot. And if somebody starts acting up, I can say, “I’ve known you since you were five. Stop that.”

Unfortunately, my classroom is far from ready. That was the other thing that made moving hard. I finally, FINALLY, after five years of teaching second grade, had my classroom set up perfected. Everything had a place, and everything worked. Now I’m starting from scratch again. I don’t even have student desks in my room yet. However, after about two and a half hours of working today, I’m almost sorted. Other than the classroom library books. I’m not touching those yet, mostly because the carpenters haven’t finished installing my new shelves and everything is covered in dust.

Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I go from “Where do I start?” to “I’m ready to start.”

21 days, people.

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