This is the fourth year in a row I am not setting up a classroom in late August. There's a tiny bit of me that is sad but very little. Mostly, it's a huge relief. This was my least favorite part of the year. Usually the classroom isn't clean and ready for me to set up, the supplies are insufficient, the class lists are not made, there are a bunch of inane meetings detracting from time I could actually be getting ready, the staff isn't completely hired, and the textbooks are not in the correct classrooms. And I'm lucky - I always knew which grade I was teaching beforehand. Some people don't even know that.
One year I got a new classroom. I was teaching third grade and the classroom was previously for first grade. There is a big height difference between the two ages. I had three days before school started and all the desks were the wrong height and the chairs were the wrong size. There were still first grade books in the classroom and not all the third grade books. No one knew where I should get the new books or put the old books. I couldn't find the supplies I needed. I didn't have a class list so I couldn't make a seating chart or label anything. I had an awesome idea for a collage with the kids' names (their first impression of the room is huge and nothing draws them in like photos of themselves or their own names) but no one knew when I would get a class list. I had meetings every day and couldn't spend any time into the classroom setting up. When I asked the principal if I could stay late to do it, she said no bescause she didn't want to stay late.
Finally, my parents and a couple of friends who were not teachers came and set up my classroom for me. If they hadn't, the children would have come in a to classroom that had a pile of desks in one corner, a pile of wrong-sized chairs in another, and the wrong textbooks. Can you imagine what would have happened if I had not had help? And no one seemed to care -- except for the other teachers who were in similar positions.
A friend posted this blog on facebook. It's an excellent look at what many -- way too many -- teachers face at the beginning of the year. This guy isn't exaggerating.
This is why I'm still catching myself worrying about these set-up days - over three years after I quit full-time teaching.
Three years ago: NCLB - Jim Lehrer's New Hour, Part II
Four years ago: The Streets Got Him First