Think Outside the Box

Think Outside the Box

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Focus on Environment & Culture

I grabbed this piece of the Indiana's DOE's Walkthrough Checklist, and while they use their own RISE evaluation tool and Florida uses the Marzano system, the verbiage has showed up in the evidence section of my observation results, so I'm certain that portions overlap.

The first week is so important for setting expectations, practicing classroom routines, modifying behavior, preparing for all the uncomfortable growth the brain will do throughout the year.  And for some reason, my first thought every year is, DECORATE!  Not organized, neat & uncluttered, but full on Pinterest-ed!

Rather than taking the time to set up the bins and boxes, I quickly Clorox-ed the cabinets and surfaces and began my room beautification process.  I spent days, at least two full ones, hot gluing posters to my walls, making makeshift bulletin boards from cork squares and plastic tablecloths.  I posted all of my Learning Goals, Marzano Scales, Essential Questions, Vocabulary, and even made a place to celebrate success as evidence of my deliberate practice.  I went to multiple stores to stock up on new hot glue sticks, double sided tape, borders, fabric scraps, and cute pushpins.  As I looked at Pinterest Biology classrooms, I felt less than average, Let me tell you, when I got to the end of the day on Thursday, I felt ready to move on to updating my syllabi and photocopying my first three days work of handouts.

Feeling good on Friday, I left knowing I wouldn't have to wait in line for the copier.  I could tackle a new lesson planning software that promises to make my life easier, as soon as I manage to figure it out (without training).

And then Monday morning arrived.  Two full days before students reported, half of the artifacts I had dutifully displayed were dangling, a quarter were already on the floor.  Ugh!  Really?  Phew!  At least the Learning Goals, Marzano Scales, Essential Questions, Vocabulary, and Celebrations of Success had weathered the humidity and soaring temperatures of a weekend without AC.

By the time students were waking up on Wednesday, the dangling had begun drooping and dropping.  My masterpiece, the All-in-One Display, had lost its battle, oh how the mighty had fallen.  (And I didn't even get to take a picture to use on my TpT store!!! GRRR!)  The hours of work staring up at me from the dusty, cockroach trodden floor.  I pulled down the last of the hangers-on and tidied up.  I. WAS. ANNOYED, but optimistic.  Maybe I'll have my kids re-glue them to the walls when we are ready to display their first set of content review bulletin boards.  It can be part of their project, design the display space...

I didn't spend the time organizing my supply closet, (read: I threw everything in and closed the door.  The tornado may have touched down less than a quarter mile from school during orientation, but it wrecked havoc on my supply closet!) or setting up all of the interactive notebook supply bins.  I wasted my time decorating and it was all for naught.

So.  Lesson learned.  Pinterest has beautiful rooms with banners and borders and alternative seating options... but I need to use this year as an eye-opener.  The check boxes don't ask for color schemes or coordinating frog themes, they ask for organization, neatness and lack of clutter.  I can get points for an orderly environment.  I have already displayed the Learning goals/data on the panes of the cabinets where plenty of clear tape will hold them in place.

Next year, I'll set a reminder on my phone to read this post and start with CLEANING and ORGANIZING, not decorating.

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