As I was driving home from yet another 4-year-old birthday party this weekend, I heard an interesting piece of trivia on the radio. The person talking on the radio came on and said that apparently the average American home has 300,000 things in it. Holy cow, that's a lot of stuff. I started trying to wrap my head around that thought. And then I realized...our dining room/play room probably has at least 150,000 things in it...with most of those items being Barbie dolls, princess dolls, doll clothing, and teeny tiny doll shoes that never ever seem to stay on the Barbie dolls' feet.
We do like our stuff, don't we? I don't know if any of you have been sucked into the Marie Kondo series on Netflix? I certainly lost a few afternoons binge watching several episodes and thinking...yes, I can transform my house too! I have tried out some of her techniques and been happy to get rid of some stuff and organize some things better, like my t-shirts (you know I have too many t-shirts); I do like the new method of folding and storing them in a bin in my closet. Problem is there's lots of other stuff in my closet besides my one organized container of t-shirts. But baby steps. Of course, you know Marie Kondo and I might have to have a stand off about the amount of books that is the "right number" to keep in your house...
As I was thinking about all of the stuff that we acquire and keep in our house, I then started thinking about all of the stuff that we acquire and keep in our classrooms and in the school. As educators, we too love our stuff! It is spring. Which means everyone starts thinking about spring cleaning. Now I am certainly not going to go all Marie Kondo on you, but I do know first hand that after an almost full year of school, a lot of things end up in our classrooms. It's a good idea to try the Marie Kondo method...does this thing spark joy for my students? Is this stuff necessary for learning? Do I need to keep everything in my room and is it helping my students learn?
There is still so much to do and you have so many days left to have an impact on our kids. We have seven weeks left to do amazing work. Even more reason to make sure that the environment that you are in for the next seven weeks is one that sparks joy, encourages learning, and leaves both you and your students feeling good each day. Trust me, I need to take my own advice. If anyone has seen my table in my office...or seen the place where the table is located...I know it's somewhere under the piles of paperwork! And I will be vulnerable and share a classroom pile story with you. I was teaching 2nd grade, and it was about this time of year, maybe closer to the end of May. I had a counter in my classroom that was on one wall and above the counter was wall cabinets. I may or may not have acquired a lot of stuff on that counter. Books, papers, piles, things, trinkets, more piles, and lots of paper. I remember that I would just keep moving things to the counter and suddenly it was completely covered! I was having parents in for a showcase of student work. There was no way I could organize and clear off the counter. Well there was a way...but I was just not mentally ready to do it. So what did I do? Well we were studying insects so I covered my piles with a giant packaging paper ant pile. I made it look like a giant anthill complete with die cut ants climbing the pile and student writing attached to the anthill. Not my proudest moment of scrambling to cover up my disorganization, but at least it got us through lots of parents in the room...completely unaware of what was lurking just below the packaging paper surface.
After that experience, I vowed to work harder to keep my stuff more under control. For me, I needed to schedule in time to simply do a check in my room. Was the environment one that kids could come into every day and feel good spending so many hours in? Was it a place that I wanted to be in all day? Did all of the stuff and things have a purpose and need to be there? If not, did I have a plan to store it, use it or toss it?
As you plan for these last few weeks, don't forget to think about your classroom...will it spark joy for your students over the next seven weeks?
I finished up the graphic novel Unicorn of Many Hats. Certainly a funny, cute read for 2nd or 3rd graders. There is some great vocabulary included, along with a glossary at the end of the book. I am in the middle of a young adult book (definitely not for our age students) called Wasted Pretty. I am excited to be reading this brand new book because the new author happens to be my roommate from college! So proud of her for writing and publishing her first novel.
Events this week:
**Children's Book Week all week!
Monday - Girls on the Run @ 3:45
Tuesday - Grade 4 team meeting @ 8:00, CST Meeting @ 8:30, Grade 2 States of Matter presentation in the gym @ 9:20
Wednesday - Staff Meeting @ 8:00, 5th Grade Math MCAS, 4:00 Practice 5K for Girls on the Run!
Thursday - Sound Program for Grade 1 in yellow pod, May 13 PD Sign up opens up at 4:30 in TeachPoint, Liz G out of the building for MSAA Board Meetings in Franklin
Friday - 5th Grade Math MCAS, 4th grade field trip to New England Aquarium
Great things I noticed last week:
- I was lucky enough to be able to cover in 3P one morning last week. The students were reading two different texts about young kids in the American Revolution and comparing and contrasting the two main characters. Some great collaboration and discussion happening in all of the groups!
- I popped into music and heard the 3rd graders practicing and learning some new songs for their spring concert. It's going to awesome...or should I say "Everything is Awesome!"??
- I don't have many pictures to show it, but I was impressed with how focused and determined our 3rd graders were last week during their first sessions with MCAS. They tried their best. They spent time checking and reviewing. I was super proud of all of them. They definitely earned their weekend to relax! As I sat proctoring one friend, I couldn't help catching her in action...
Check it out:
Loved this librarian mom's response to the reading challenge that her daughter's school was doing: http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2019/04/sunday-reflections-how-misuse-of-the-40-book-challenge-made-my-kid-hate-reading-and-why-how-i-pushed-back/?fbclid=IwAR2OZd2vjTmolb00ag9bX6wfGv69ZmPY68lMRYF4YI4d-cRDbPvTWPyPrc8