At our SMSU back-to-school professional development days, a professor friend from the Sociology Department approached me and said “WENDY…I had no idea how hard it would be to set up an elementary classroom!”
Up went my eyebrows and out came a VERY LOUD giggle. I said to her “oh, PLEASE write this down then email it to me. You can be a guest blogger for Dr. V and me.”
Well…here it is. Cindy’s reflection on her first ever experience with setting up an elementary classroom with her daughter, Sarah, and Sarah’s friend, Aileen. Both of these young ladies are SMSU graduates and are beginning their first year as elementary teachers. Good luck to you, Sarah and Aileen. Your rooms look fabulous! And thank you for sharing your story, Cindy. It made me laugh! 🙂 Enjoy everyone…
This is a guest blog post by SMSU Associate Professor of Sociology, Dr. Cindy Aamlid. She is the proud mom of a brand spanking new 4th grade teacher. Cindy loves to read, hike with her family, and sew. You may contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am…Mom of an Elementary Teacher
It was only natural that my daughter become a teacher. I am a teacher. My mom was a teacher. My grandma was a librarian. Collectively we have been involved in education for more than 70 years. We have experienced setting up classrooms, making bulletin boards, planning seating arrangements, and making lesson plans. What none of us had experienced, though, is the life of an elementary teacher, and especially this new “Pinterest” teacher.
I spent most of the month of July getting my daughter ready for the big move to the first teaching job in Kansas. This involved not only packing for apartment living again, but also helping her get things ready for the classroom. On my list were things like finding cute baskets for the shelves, painting and recovering an old padded rocker for the “cozy corner” in her classroom, making pillows, painting letters and frames, and cleaning out her closet. What I didn’t know was that my education into the life of an elementary teacher, a Pinterest teacher, was just beginning.
I learned that classrooms aren’t planned around themes anymore…now it’s all about a color scheme. And the chosen color scheme was a little unique (just like my daughter)…coral, navy, aqua, and gray. We painted the old chair with a blue chalk paint, and used gray/white fabric to recover the cushions. My daughter bought a few things like small rugs, bins, and pillows in those 4 cute colors, and I found a few ready-made wall decorations. We bought fabric and ribbon to use on the bulletin boards, instead of paper. I thought we were fairly organized and ready. Looking back on this, I really had no clue. I should have paid more attention to Pinterest.
Walking into her 4th grade room for the first time was fun for me. It was a sort of a life passage. But it soon became very overwhelming. I had forgotten how bare an empty classroom looks. As we walked down the school hallways, we just stared in awe. The majority of the rooms were all filled from floor to ceiling with wall decorations, as well as having the door covered and decorated. These teachers had set a high bar in this school, and for a new first year teacher, how could you ever compete with that? You just couldn’t. But our conversation also revolved around the fact that parents’ night was 4 days away, and that the parents and students would also be judging and comparing her room with the others. So how could we find a happy medium…between all the “stuff” that had been collected and developed over the years by experienced teachers and the emptiness of a first year room? So we turned to Pinterest again.
What was supposed to be (in my mind anyway) a 5 hour classroom set up, turned into a 4 day adventure. The first thing I learned is that the school did not have any construction paper in these 4 fun unique colors my daughter chose, and that they did not have a supply of the sticky tape to put things on the walls. So that sent me to every dollar store, fabric store, and craft store to find the right colored paper; I think I also bought out the town’s supply of sticky tape. The second thing we learned is that the school has required items that need to be on the walls, such as a Word Wall, Star Student, How We Get Home, and CHAMPS. So we had to create our own (with helpful ideas from Pinterest) or beg/borrow from the other teachers. Personally, I would like to suggest to all principals that these required items come already printed and laminated for the new teachers to just hang up…what a time saver and a stress reliever, especially for us mothers.
The third thing I learned is that I can’t achieve the Pinterest look without the helpful advice of videos and blog directions. My daughter wanted big fluffy tissue paper pompoms, in those 4 fun unique colors. The first attempts were somewhat crumpled and misshapen. Who knew that I would be watching an 8 minute video in order to figure out all the tricks…but it worked. I can make those pompoms look pretty good.
Then on to figuring out how to make a cookie sheet magnet board. We couldn’t find cute magnets in the 4 fun unique colors, so we decided to make our own, using wooden star cutouts, a little paint, a small magnet, and a glue gun. My husband was really proud of himself for learning to use a glue gun. We created the Word Wall and Star Student decorations with die cut letters, scrapbook paper, and ribbon. Pinterest was a big help. And I am so thankful that I can sew! I made the girls curtains for their bookshelves (to hide the emptiness) and pillows for the cozy corners.
Oh…I forgot to mention that we were not just setting up one classroom… my daughter and her best SMSU friend (and roomie) both came to Kansas to teach, so we were also helping her a bit. I just started making doubles of everything.
As I look back on those crazy 4 days, I know that each year will be easier. And I also know that I plan on helping out every year that I can…I had better get my Pinterest board set up now!
Dear Sarah and Aileen…change the world, ladies!!!! One student at a time. We expect nothing less! 🙂 Have a fantastic first year!