Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My Big 20 Year Blow Out

I follow a few teachers on instagram and this summer, I got inspired to take a look at my classroom and get my act together.  I don't like the actual room I'm in, but for the first two years, I muddled through, trying to adjust to younger students while I ignored my ugly walls.

I was elementary trained, but then I taught middle school for 17 years, so all of that Romper Room decorating savvy just sort of evaporated.  People always commented that they liked the look of my room but that's because a lot of middle school teachers keep a fairly sterile looking environment.  Not as unfriendly and sterile as a high school, but not as welcoming as a kindergarten classroom.

And I once knew how to do kindergarten.  It's where I did my student teaching.  And that room was welcoming, colorful and warm.

Fast forward to the end of this summer and I knew some changes had to be made.  But, that also meant spending some money for things that would make me happy.  I RARELY spend money on school stuff, a silent vow I took the day I graduated.  It's a slippery slope, once you start spending here and there, so I've always made do, refashioned things to what I wanted, begged and pleaded with the school to get them or I've done without.

This year is my 20th year of teaching.  Weird, because I'm only 25.  Like any business, I need to have a 20th anniversary blowout sale.  This translates to a more organized looking room and hopefully, some changes that are positive and functional.

First, I have to show you what my friend j-ster did for me.  I moved a bookcase to create a "sitting area" and when I texted her a picture of the blank wood back and asked if she'd paint a mural, she said "sure"!

Three days later, I was the proud owner of a gorgeous scene that I think my students are going to LOVE!

Here's the view of the sitting area:

They will use the mats to sit on the floor.  I will probably have to put a masking tape line in front of that stool because they have a tendency to sit almost on top of me and when I put the tape down last year, they stayed back!  As the year goes on, I fill this wall with all of the questions they can ask and answer in French.  What you see there is the calendar.  We begin every class with the calendar, just like little kids do in kindergarten.  It's such a rich vocabulary enhancer!

So, looking from the bookcase you just saw, we have this view.  I have 2 windows that are great for light but each only has a tiny window that opens, so this time of the year is a nightmare for me with the heat.

Here's my elementary brain coming back.  Lots of color, I moved that map closer to the floor and my constant quest to put everything up high has been tamed a little bit.  Those white boards are where I write the daily agendas, one for each grade.

K-ster built me a new bookcase,I talked about it here,  so I now have 2 large, purple bookcases adding color to the room.

I'm not one to put decorative things on bookcases, but I couldn't just fill this with books so that all you see is the spines.  No one would ever want to look at any of them.  Setting it up like this adds some interest and mystery, don't you think?

 The top of the bookcase now holds everything from markers to kleenex, so all of my supplies are in one place and there's a poster above it with all of the words they would need for school supplies.

I skipped my desk area because it's a slovenly mess.  I don't have any real storage except for that cabinet and it's not a normal cabinet, so storing things away is hard.

I realize this is blurry, but you get the idea that I used my cricut to make stickers for the computers that are each a French speaking country.  I usually just write it on paper and stick it on with tape, but I'm all fancy now.

That poster right above the computers is worth pointing out.

I used to have a bunch of pictures of France on there, with tags that identified the places, like this.

Except, if you know this monument, you can see I've spelled it wrong.  I've had it up in my classroom for like a decade.  And out of nowhere last year, I realized I spelled Triomphe wrong.  And NO ONE ever corrected me.

The pictures were old and faded, so I replaced them with pictures I took in 2012 and new tags that are all spelled properly!

This is the front of the bookcase that has the mural.  I don't like those boxes in there, but I have nowhere else to put them, so there they reside.  I love that I can put stuff on this bookcase but still see over it.

This is when I look at my room and worry about traffic flow.  I think this bookcase is going to cause a traffic jam.  I've already walked into it twice.  If it becomes a problem, I'm going to have to restructure my entire room!

You can also see in the back of that picture that my yarn cubbie is all set and ready for crocheters to take over!

It's really hard to see, but I added two curtains this year.  The windows are pretty high up and I only made a 12 inch valence, so they almost disappear up there.  The lighting is impossible for a good picture, but this was the best.  There are lots of French words on them and some bikes and bread. They are so high up there, I'm not sure the kids will even notice!  Yet another expense, but it makes me happy to see them!

Don't get excited, this is the end of my spending splurge.  I'm hoping the kids will notice the changes and like them enough to help keep things neat and tidy.

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