Wow. This is my second year at OLC, and you’d think having done it all before, it would be easier — or at least less work… Not at all. I feel like I have been running around like crazy since school started — and even before it began!
I got back from my month-long stay Honduras at the very end of July and within days was back to work — working with a 4th grade student to complete 35 hours of tutoring, as well as teaching night classes at my second job. That did not leave a whole lot of time to get my room ready, and I was determined to clear all the junk and old stuff out of all my cupboards, countertops, and filing cabinets. I took over last year for a teacher who had retired, which was a blessing overall (she left me ALL of her stuff!) but at the same time presented its own challenges. Not having the time to do a total and thorough cleaning, most of the stuff remained in the cupboard all year. This summer, the very first thing I did upon my return was pull EVERYTHING out of the cupboards.
And I mean EVERYTHING.
On top of all the stuff I already had, I was hooked up with a fellow NSTA member from the Erie area through the award I received last April. This retired teacher was cleaning out her own cupboards and offered to donate bags and bags of things — student rewards, books, science kits, magnifiers, craft supplies, etc — to my classroom. Yay! And also: Uhhh, where’s this all going to go??? Anyway, I had lots of STUFF and it was EVERYWHERE.
With the help of my hardworking mom and aunt, and the company and only slight distraction of my slacker boyfriend (he played with magnets while I worked on my room), I did manage to get it all done! I kept a lot of the decorations and organization elements from last year, but I also revamped a lot of my systems and switched to a slightly different color scheme (gray and blue, compared to last year’s brown and blue). While I still have a ton of STUFF in my room, I think I’ve avoided a “clutter” feel, which I sometimes thought about my room last year.
Here are some of my favorite additions and revamps:
In addition to the NEW stuff I’ve shared above, here are some of the elements I kept from last year:
Oh, and here is me on the first day of school (what a geek!):
Hope you all had a fabulous first day, first week, and first month!
Woohoo for the first day of 5th grade! Though I briefly saw my 6th graders as well, I spent most of the day with my 5th grade homeroom. Holy cow, 5th and 6th grade is awesome. You ask them to do something, and they do it. You ask them to help out, and they fight over who gets to collect the garbage bags. I talk to them about having helpers take care of our fish tank, tree frogs, and rats — including cleaning dirty fish water and wiping up rat pee — and they bug me the rest of the day, explaining why they would make excellent Zookeepers. Hahah. I love it.
Can’t say I miss 8th grade…
Anyhoo, here are some pictures of my lovely room, all set up for the first day!
When I took the job in North Carolina last summer, I literally drove down Sunday and started inservices on Monday, so I didn’t have a lot of time to set up and decorate my room. I also didn’t have a lot of money (though that really hasn’t changed), so I didn’t have a lot to work with.
Thankfully this year I had all summer to plan, and I am SO PLEASED with the final product. As I have worked to arrange and decorate my room the last few weeks, I have spent a lot of time incorporating classroom management and instructional techniques into my design. I’ll be sharing with you what I have done over the next few blog posts…
The girls I worked with last year in Charlotte had some great decorating ideas that I was able to utilize this year. One of those ideas is the use of fabric to decorate bulletin boards. First, it is just ADORABLE — you can get it in so many designs and colors. It also looks very sharp — you don’t get the wrinkles, tears, etc. that you end up with when you use large butcher paper. Finally, although the upfront cost is higher than that free paper, it is WAY more durable and you can use it for years. I am even hoping next spring I can get away with simply covering all my boards with butcher paper (to prevent fading), so I won’t have to spend the extra time recovering them all in the fall.
While I wanted a cohesive look in my classroom this fall, I also did not want to limit myself to a specific theme. I decided to choose a color scheme, and inspired by a cute trim I found in the closet, I went with blue and brown. It actually worked out really well because all the wood in the classroom is brown anyway.
Here is the fabric and trim I ended up with:
Next year, I think I will put the blue polka-dot all the way around the brown board (directly above) and the flags all the way around the blue board (the very first picture above) to enhance that contrast, but I don’t feel like redoing it all at this point.
I have since decided that this fabric is a little too busy for my bulletin board, but again, I have run out of time and am not redoing it at the moment. I plan to use this fabric to make some pillow covers for my “Cozy Corner” section of the room when I do tear the board down, and I have some simpler light blue and dark brown fabrics that I will put up in its place. In the meantime, though, I plan to put some sort of student work on this board.
In addition to covering the boards with fabric, I am in the process of making some dangling streamers from embroidery hoops and strips of fabric. I’ll definitely get some pictures of those up soon.
Finally, I made a banner from double-sided scrapbook paper and baker’s twine that I have hung around the “Ms. Fuhrman’s Corner” of the room.