This is the first year in a L*O*N*G time that I have not been in the hustle and bustle of setting up a classroom. It all hit me when I was in a local discount store and heard a little voice whisper, “Mom, there’s Mrs. Harper! She is a teacher at my school.” Life gives us these moments, in bitter sweet ways, times to swallow the now and move into the future. I’m ready. However, it seems like yesterday that I spent hours creating environments collaboratively with students–and now I step off of that dance floor and take a front seat on the balcony (thank you Ron Heifitz’s work in the area of adaptive leadership), and take an honest look at my practice through a lens of refection and out of that space of fast pace: an autopilot that I spent so much time in. Over the past 4 years, I spent countless hours on a mission to reinvent my primary classroom spaces, rethinking the needs of today’s learner and put that thinking into action. Guess I’m happy to have this balcony view for a while, a chance to rethink my craft even more and maybe help others along the way.
I always started my year with my tattered, loved and cherished Reading with Meaning: Teacher Comprehension, and her lovely introduction always resounding in my mind, “new crayons in bright baskets sit at the children’s tables, flanking caddies of sharpened pencils, markers, scissors and glue. The pencils stand tall, the erasers in tact. All sixty-four crayons point in the same direction. Markers fresh from familiar yellow and green boxes have their lids capped tight…..and then the kids come.” That is STILL true for sure.
This is the aspiration phase of starting school. The moments when we imagine what its going to look like, it is when we forget any past challenges and roadblocks from the years before. It is a time to breathe in promise, hope and the greatest of intentions. This is the balcony before the dance starts. Think I’ll hang out here a while.
This week, I happened upon a school that is rising, making changes that matter and making changes that are going to be sustainable and purposeful for students. The air of buy in from every teacher in the room was so moving. Teachers who had been in the trenches for years were reimagining their spaces as they prepared for another school year.
Enjoy some quick snapshots of a Douglas County teacher, Heather Cunningham, new to Cherokee Trail Elementary, who has reimagined and is preparing for some lucky 6th graders. More later from my balcony views! Video: Reimagined Spaces.