The end of July, every person who is now or ever been married to a teacher knows what that means. First come the meetings, you know the kind where they go all day. Then they come home and say “Why can’t we just get in our classrooms?” As the non-attending person I can remember just a few weeks ago when it was “I can’t wait until I get out of this classroom!!”
And then access is granted to your own personal area. “Oh Boy! We get in our classrooms this Friday. There is no air conditioner but I can go over there and check out my room.” This is teacher code for what ever your plans are, cancel them. You are going to that hot building with me to stare at my room while I tell you what I (we) will be doing over the next 8 to 10 days and nights.
The next days are filled with careful detail of how the room is to be set up. So many different ideas are shared not only with me but all other teachers on the same hall. More planning and designing and redesigning went into this classroom than all of the planning of the space shuttle. Countless trips to the Walmart (I should have bought stock in Crayola Crayon, Mead Notebook and Kleenex) and the Teacher Supply Store. Oriental Trading and Creative Classroom Magazines are spread all over the house.
And now The Big Day has come. All of the totes, bags and boxes packed with care in May, filled with what it takes to make a classroom ready are loaded on the truck along with a ladder and a toolbox of everything I own so can’t leave and come back. She learned that if I leave it takes 3-5 hours for me to get back. Preparation for the room begins with the walls. The walls must be papered brightly, trimmed and covered with every image known since the beginning of time. All the desks or tables must be moved 6 or 8 times until they are just so. Each cubbyhole must have a special cut out image. Pictures hung and moved and rehung. Centers are changed, activity boxes are arranged and rearranged. And now for the teacher’s desk. A place for everything and everything in its place. Pocket and Flip Charts, different colors for different lesson plans. The kitchen, the baby doll, the race track all areas must be set up, then torn down moved 6 feet or across the room and set up again.
The evening sky is purple and stars are showing. Time to go home and discuss what needs to be changed tomorrow and then the day after. Countless phone calls are made to other teachers with discussions of what went where, why it’s there and if so and so’s classroom is finished. The day is finished and my weekend and next 5 evenings have been planned.
Thus begins the Back to School Ritual every year. I did each one, right there helping and offering support. Moving and hanging and changing to have the perfect classroom ready for the new year. I did grumble and always balked at the beginning but I went along because it’s a way of being with my teacher.