Monday, August 22, 2016

First Day Number 23

Today was my 23rd first day of school in Northbrook School District 28.  This year, as you know if you've read this blog this summer, is different.  I am not returning to my long-time home at Northbrook Junior High.  Instead, today was my first official day as a third grade teacher.

Of course, I've been at school on and off over the past few weeks getting everything set up.  So here's my new home:

This is the view to the left from just inside my classroom door.  You can see my cabinetry, which holds curricular materials and supplies.  At the far end is my desk.  I know many people are getting rid of their teacher desks, but honestly, I need my space to work before and after school just like students need their spaces to work during the day.  In order to minimize the space I take up, I keep my desk pushed up against the wall.  The bulletin board above the desk is our Mindsets for Learning board.  Students will complete this board as we learn the five stances that lead to a learning mindset.

These are my two small group instructional spaces.  I am lucky enough to have an assistant in my room for both my literacy studio block and my math workshop block.  The two tables afford both of us space to work with students, either individually or in small groups.  These tables also offer students other seating options during other times of the school day.
This is my reading area/meeting area.  The books on these shelves are almost all nonfiction books.  As I was sorting my library books with a friend, I realized just how much of my library was nonfiction.  I love this part of my collection because I have lots of different kinds of books about many different topics.  I also love that the nonfiction books are front and center.  I don't, however, love the carpet.  Or the olive green accent wall.  Or the orange sink cabinetry.  Unlike some teachers in some schools, I am NOT allowed to paint my walls or bring in furniture other than that provided by the school.  Hence my black and white bulletin boards.

This is the fiction area of my library.  I definitely need to work on beefing up my early chapter book collection over the course of this year.  Thank goodness I've started stockpiling Scholastic Book Club bonus points!  The nice part of having holes in my classroom library is that the kids can help me fill them by suggesting titles I should add to our collection.

Having this space all set got me in the right frame of mind for today.  Though it was mostly spent in meetings, we did have Meet the Teacher for an hour where families could come check out our classroom and ME.  I met all 18 of my terrific third graders.  I shook each of their hands (we'll be working on that during Morning Meeting this week... believe me!) and introduced myself.  They were so cute.  And they were SO excited to see their desks, to see their lockers, to begin to explore our classroom.  My favorite moment (besides the spontaneous hug I got from one departing youngster) was seeing so many of the kids flipping through the books, looking for old favorites and discussing new-to-them titles they'd like to read.  It made my heart happy to see this labor of love getting the attention it so deserves.  I couldn't have done it without the generosity of friends who donated books or who gifted me with Amazon gift cards so I could build the library my young learners need.

Today was important.  Hard as it was to walk away from my friends who have supported me for the past 22 years, today showed me just how right I was to make this move.  I needed to shake things up, to push myself outside my comfort zone, to get back in the company of children, to put myself back in the classroom to put to work the things I learned as a coach.  

So that quote at the top of the page from another 23... That quote captures my thinking about my work this year.  I will work hard.  I will have high expectations for myself and my students.  And my reward will be the knowledge that I'm where I am supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

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