Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sometimes the Plan Must Change

I went in early.  I went in with a plan.  I went in with an assistant (kid #1 is awesome).  I went in and I stopped in my tracks.  You see, the part of the plan that relied on other people doing their job and following through on their 'promises' fell through.  This meant that all the other steps in the plan were going to have to wait.  

The furniture that was supposed to be removed from the room, was not removed from the room.  So, I had to put my plan on hold while I moved the photocopier and tables and boxes and desks and computers.  After about 2 hours of shifting and tidying I could finally begin unpacking.  

Once things were unpacked (but hardly organised) we decided to jump on a train and go shopping.  Then we went home and I spent the most of the next day sleeping.  I was exhausted.  The classroom is almost ready.  There is still so much more to do and I am so overwhelmed and I have done so little planning and I haven't got my head around the first unit.  We spent student free days in curriculum meetings and professional development workshops and planning meetings and 'important' lunches.  Every time I left my classroom for "a few minutes" I would be gone for an hour.  Popping in to a neighbouring staffroom to see one person for a second resulted in 20 conversations (many of them simply social rather than necessary).  On Thursday all I really wanted (and let's face it, needed) to do was go to the toilet.  But could I do that?  Could I have three minutes to myelf?  NO. 

A teacher aid was chasing me to ask me where to put some photocopying (on the desk... how hard is that?), my teaching partner told me she had some student folders and wanted to know what to do with them.  I answered her question and she still followed me into the toilets to continue the discussion because she didn't want to keep the folders.  So, as I was covering the toilet seat with toilet paper, I explained why it is important for us to have those records.  

I need to learn how to say to people (politely) that I need some space.  Apparently, "I need to go to the toilet" isn't going to be enough.  

The real moral of the story is this: Blessed are the Flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape! 

I hope everyone enjoys their long weekend.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sort of an Update

I have exactly three days before I officially return to school for Student Free Days.  Professional development, conferencing about school vision, planning meetings, resource ordering and all that stuff. But, tomorrow I got to school to get my classroom set up.  My nephew (number one) is coming over tonight, he is coming to school with me tomorrow to help.  We will be moving furniture, unpacking books onto shelves, organising my desk, putting up posters and curtains, cutting up laminated displays, photographing walls and the list goes on.

I do hope #1 is ready for a big day. I'm not sure that I am.

The most important thing about tomorrow is that I have a plan of action.  When you are about to start a big project (setting up a classroom, moving house, redecorating, a big artwork) it is tempting to jump right in.  However, if you don't have a plan you ultimately spend a great deal of time going back and forth when you realise that the bookshelf doesn't look any good in that corner or the opposite corner, but should be next to the desk where it started.  Or, we make big mistakes that need to be fixed and that takes time too.  I also find that people are keen to help but they can't read my mind and they don't know what I want to happen and they need direction.  If you haven't taken the time to plan, then they can end up standing around waiting for you to work out what you want them to do and they get frustrated.  Also, if they are moving the furniture and you realise that you don't like that configuration and they have to do more moving because you didn't have a plan, they won't want to help you again.

So, I have a plan. However, I have to admit that in my recent state of mind (generally confused and forgetful) that I would miss something important while I was planning. Thankfully, I have all these great  teaching blog buddies who focus on various areas of the teaching context.  All of them enjoy taking photos of their classroom and sharing how they organise and store their resources.  Some of them even have packets on Teachers Pay Teachers with advice and planning templates related to setting up a classroom.  It is no secret how much I love the Clutter Free Classroom.  Therefore, I printed off the Clutter Free Classroom Guide and got cracking.

You see, as much as I am annoyed that I have to move classrooms, I am rather excited about the prospect of a new location.   I am choosing to see it as an opportunity to de-clutter and create a new teaching/ learning space in a real classroom (you may not know that I was teaching in an open plan living type house built on our school grounds).  Anyway, my plan...

1. Start by putting the furniture in place.  I drew a floor plan, so that #1 and I now exactly what we are heading towards and hopefully we can do it quickly.
2. Unpack boxes of resources and place them into the shelves and cupboards out of the way.
3. Set up my laptop and printer (and any other computers that I may or may not have, which unfortunately I have no control over at this point).
4. Get all the posters and class displays up on the walls where possible.
5. Inventory and replenish resources and materials for student use. For example: behaviour charts, sticker cards and stationery.

There are plenty of other things to do, but this is a start.  A small start.

The message of today's post is this... Have a Plan.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I've been...


I wanted to find some quick and easy breakfast recipes for back to school.  I don’t know about other teachers, but mornings are tough for me.  I have so much to do when I get up, my brain is focused on the day ahead and the thought of food and preparing it is just too much.  So, where do you go when you need to quickly and easily find some quick and easy recipes?  Why, Pinterest of course!

On Pinterest, I ran a search for eggs, which brought up hundreds of pictures and links to recipe blogs and I found a recipe for oven baked omelettes.  Check out the pictures below.  By the way, the recipe was really simple: break eggs and mix with milk, pour into muffin tray and add extras as you like (bacon/ ham/ tomato/ mushrooms/ onion/ capsicum/ cheese).  I added different things to each one to see what I liked the most.

I probably liked all of the omelettes that I made and while they kept until the next day, I preferred to eat them fresh. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Laminating is Fun

Today, I pulled out the laminator and got her up and running. Yes, she is a her.  It is amazing what a lack of sleep will do to a person.  It is also amazing what a looming deadline will do to help you find your motivation and your voice.  I am moving, the fingers are tripping over the keyboard and soon they will be dancing, but for now, the tripping is enough.
As in all things... there is mess.

Being the awesome teacher that I am, I have already started preparing for the beginning of the year (hence the use of the laminator). I laminated the bookmarks that the BFF gave me for my birthday.  Then I laminated some coloured paper circles for a new display in my new classroom.

By the way, can you guess, by looking at the picture, what movie these bookmarks pay homage to?   

That's right.  The Princess Bride.  I'm currently reading the novel and loving it.  More on that later (if you want to read a review click here).  Anyway, the BFF got the graphics from a picture that I pinned last year.  She printed it and used them to make these very cool, customised bookmarks. She also added quotes from the film.  I love that they are the only bookmarks in the world like them.  You can't get this in a store people.  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Happy New Year

I realise the New Year's Parties are well and truly over and people are already starting to let the resolutions slip.  I'm sure many of you are doing well with the goals of the infant year.

By the way, I built a bear, meet Nora.
I made play-dough that sparkles.  It is true that glitter makes you smile.  
There is very good reason for my recent leave of absence, besides the nephews and nieces and family and friends and housework catch up and shopping and everything else.  You will be spared the details.

All I have to say is that both together and separately, depression and writer's block are terrible things.

I just wanted you to know that I am alive, and reading a little and thinking a lot and sleeping a little and playing and making and painting and hoping and crying and laughing.  Soon I will be back to work and school.  There will be new challenges and happenings and achievements and joys and one day soon there will be stories... more stories... lots of stories and much to tell.

 I hope.