I’m reminded of the first day of my first full year teaching, in the Fall of 1995. I’d spent a couple weeks trying to set up my classroom and that Monday morning I’d gotten to school early. But by the time the morning bell rang I still had a ton of stuff piled on my large table/desk and more stuff piled behind the desk. I resorted to taking a blanket (I don’t remember why I had a blanket in my classroom, but there you go…) and just pulling it over the piles as I realized that I was completely out of time and it was time to bring my new students into my new classroom. Thus, I’m currently creating large piles of robot parts on the tables scattered around the room, so that I can figure out how big a container/drawer/box I need to store that part and where in the classroom I might store it.
Seven weeks, and I’m still just getting a handle on how much stuff was just dropped into boxes, because no one had the time or took the time to organize things at the end of previous school years. I also have a huge pile of parts “cases” that were probably used to store individual student robot projects. The cases, mostly empty dominate a full table to the ceiling. I’m not sure how we’ll “store” robot projects in progress, but I’m NOT going to divide all of the individual parts into kits (been there/done that), so I don’t know that I have a need for so many cases. I sent an email to administrators requesting permission to store the cases in an unused room (the former Home-Ec classroom…). That’ll free up some space. Sadly, my admin isn’t interested in me moving the cases out of the room. Sometimes asking permission doesn’t “work.”
I have a definite sense of dread as the days run out and the room remains overrun with boxes and piles of robot parts. And I haven’t written a single line of code that will be needed as the curriculum part of the course. Ugh. Double Ugh.
That last paragraph was written at the end of week six. I just finished the seventh week and surprise surprise but I have indeed gotten the piles of robot parts either stored in the back of the room or at least off of the tables (to be sorted and stored LATER). It’s amazing how much more focus the mind gets as time completely slips away and one is left with the thought, “what do I have to have running Monday morning when students are at the door,” because everything else can now wait. Ugh. Welcome letters (email) needs to be written and sent and the first assignments still need to be written and posted to the curriculum (Canvas) website…
Sadly my blogging capacity has clearly halved, in that this post has taken over two weeks to appear, when I really wanted it to be a weekly thing. Beginning the school year reminds me of the line written by a little girl in her diary over 150-years ago, when her family moved West, to a mining town notorious for its lawlessness. She wrote, “goodbye God, we’re moving to Bodie.” Certainly in the first few weeks I’ll be hard pressed to find time for anything other than the teaching process. It is and has been a grueling sprint that lasts much longer than a marathon. It’s only by necessity that I will break for such things as eating and sleeping. You’d think after doing this for 26 years that I would have figured out a more painless way to begin the school year. But every year presents its own unique challenge. Last year was moving to the middle school level, teaching robotics and media, and doing it all remotely, without ever meeting my students face-to-face. And then having it all flip over in the last eight-weeks of the school year to having a fraction of the students in the classroom and the rest staying remote. This year is about wrestling with the enormous robot parts inventory, figuring out how to dole it out across five classes simultaneously (some classes over 40 students), and increasing the curriculum timeline from 10-weeks to 37-weeks. I spent the last seven weeks (unpaid) just wrestling with the robot parts inventory and am spending the current five days getting the rest into some sort of “starting position,” so that we’re not left on Monday morning staring at each other with a lot of classroom “dead air.” So, “goodbye god, the school year begins on Monday.”