Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sneaking In

I snuck in to school last week to get a jump start on organizing my classroom. Actually, I didn't sneak. Lots of people knew my plans. I even signed-in as a volunteer, printed out a sticker badge and wore it, but I like the sound of sneaking in. I like how it feels a little risky but still safe-- it's not sneaking out after all. Though I imagine come February I might want to do just that.

My room was a disaster area. Seriously. I inherited more materials than I had cabinets or bookshelves to contain. I ended the year with one arm in a shoulder sling. I'd had rotator cuff surgery in March and in June was not cleared to lift more than a pound. Terrible timing. I dislike leaving the school year unfinished; it difficult to leave the materials, packing and unpacking for later. My department co-chair retired. We planned her exit and how I would take over her duties. The plan was that she would have students help move her materials in the back half of my classsroom. We'd park the materials and supplies in my discussion circle area until I got furniture in which to store things and was able to lift more than a pound with my right arm. I ear-marked the last week of July to sneek in and tackle that organization job. I anticipated the work. I planned for it, but I don't think I realized just what I was in for.

Fortunately, a teaching colleague asked a student to post working in my classroom for service hours on the students' Facebook page. I had help: two or three student volunteers, my son and my mom. We did the job in three days.

Once you start cleaning and organizing, well, it's hard to stop. What an opportunity though. I'm talking deep cleaning. 

I got rid of books that my students haven't read in years. I packed up some to give away and recycled books that were no longer salvageable. I faced the fact that I tend toward pack-rat saving books even if covers get mangled or pages get torn. I felt fearless. I told myself I would throw away files I had not used in three to five years. The first step was clearing the floor and starting to sort.
Now to sort and organize.

 I recycled a lot of paper. There is something liberating about cleaning and getting organized. 
Same side of the room but from the opposite direction.
I'm not one-hundred percent finished. I stacked a lot on the desk at the back of the room, so I still need to take care of that, supply the tables and freshen up the decorations. I'm excited though.Teachers officially report back to work on Monday. Me? I'm going to sneak in a couple more times this week to make sure I'm ready. 


  1. Lee Ann, I love your idea of sneaking in. I made a commitment to stay away for the month of July, and I've yet to "sneak in" in August. Next week, I'll be there quite a bit. I love what you accomplished in just three days!

  2. And you didn't hurt yourself in the process! I did all of my purging both work and home per-surgery! So crazy how soon entropy takes over!

  3. Wow, there aren't really words to convey how much stuff was in your room -- so glad you included the pictures! You must feel immensely relieved now. I'm moving from sharing a big room to having my own small room this year, and as of right now, all my stuff is still boxed up in corners of the new room. (We are required to box up everything and have it out of the way so the custodians can do deep cleaning in the summer anyway.) Tomorrow is probably going to be my first day of "sneaking in", and I'm looking forward to it, because right now it just feels like this huge task looming over me. Of course, I always love putting together a room anyway -- carefully trying to create the climate I want. I hope I get as much accomplished as efficiently as you did!

  4. Lee Ann,
    The photos make me feel overwhelmed! I can't imagine how it first felt when you began. It sounds like you've accomplished what you set out to do. And, I know what you mean about sneaking in-I catch myself saying that too sometimes. Have a great start to your school year!