Today was “T Minus 5”. Students arrive in five working days.
Two feelings: chatty and overwhelmed.
Importance of Chat
Each school year begins with faculty and staff assemblies. I look over a sea of roughly 300 people, about a third of whom I know fairly well. I want to hear about their summers. I want them to expand on their Facebook updates – all the fun stories they didn’t post.
I think the importance of beginning-of-year chat is underestimated. While stories of summer escapades do not immediately enhance student learning, the shared stories build community. A Professional Learning Community (PLC) is built upon teachers who trust one another. If my colleagues trust me enough to share the “unpublished” versions of summer stories, they will probably trust me enough to debate important issues later in the year.
Expat institutions can expect a flood of new teachers every year. Chat time allows me to get to know them as people before I get to know them as professionals.
I estimate it takes anywhere from 8 to 16 hours to set up a classroom well. I can set up a room in eight hours if I have a teaching assistant to do bulletin boards and my classroom library is in relatively good order.
My one and only performance goal this first day is to make my classroom look more ready than it is. “Looking ready” means this: desks and furniture arranged, bulletin board background material and borders are up, my bookshelves look neat, and other messes are hidden.
First impressions matter. If an administrator or parent enters the classroom, they’ll think I’m ready to go. Also, I need uncluttered space to do my more complicated thinking about classroom management, student placement, and planning.
Classroom at the end of Preservice Day 1
Total work hours to set up classroom: 5
Other Organizational Considerations
I cannot overstate the importance of staying late the first day to finish these “big” pieces of furniture arrangement. Very soon (if not already), the meetings and extra duties will begin.
What are your classroom arrangement tricks? Organizational tips?