“It looks so sad…..”. Those were the words falling from my students’ lips during the last few days of May. They echoed perfectly how I felt. In the final weeks of May, I started dismantling my classroom. The student work, academic vocabulary, and anchor charts all came down off the walls. The review games were all packed away into bins. The crates full of student portfolios were emptied. The motorized toys students created were dismantled. The computers were packed away. The bookcases were covered. The school year was ending and I had to close up my classroom. The blank canvas left behind always leaves me feeling a little sad.
Fast forward a few months and the start of school is quickly approaching. I’ve been working in my room for a couple of weeks, getting ready for the coming year. The bookcases have been uncovered. The furniture has been shifted around to create spaces for flexible groupings. The computer center has been repopulated. The crates are organized and awaiting a new set of portfolios. New “working files” for my students with IEPs are ready. The bins on table groups have been restocked and fresh tags have been placed on each desk. New accounts have been set up for my students to play Lure of the Labyrinth. My school webpage has been updated so that parents can get the school supply list early and learn how to navigate my page. The walls, however, remain largely bare. I have the “business of school” stuff on the wall (rules, NORMs, homework calendars, noise monitor, etc), but that is all.
It still feels slightly sad to gaze at these bare walls. Yet, it is also a little hopeful. It holds promise of what is to come. This blank slate is intentional, you see. I want this space to be ours, not mine. I want it to be something that we build together as we build our collective knowledge. The walls will fill and even overflow in time. They will reflect what we know and who we are. They will tell our story. For now, they whisper the promise of the days to come.
(If you are reading this, please don’t think that I am suggesting in any way that this is the “right” way to set up a class. It’s just what works for me. I am truly inspired by some of the amazingly welcoming rooms that other teachers create.)