Moving a classroom is much like moving to a new home. It tears your heart in just as many directions. The main difference is that you are in it alone. It is too much to request help from teacher friends and teenage children will only slightly invest in this caper unless offered great amounts of money. My husband, buried in his own worked, wholly supported this move but from a distance. School was closed for the summer. The air conditioning turned off. Let’s face it, I created this…. this…. (monster) collection, and now It was time to begin.
I dreaded the packing and the physical labor but I was elated about my grade level change, and so I opened the closet doors and grabbed the huge lunchroom dumpster. I began to pitch. I sorted through books and posters, games and manipulatives, and basket after basket. My teaching history mostly spanned the early elementary grades, all of them. Twenty-nine years of teaching Young Fives, Kindergarten, First, and Second grades. It was time to purge.
Once the dumpster was full, I ran to the grocery store for large yard waste bags. I paused and pondered. I thought and wondered. Would I need my collection of African folktales and tiny wooden hut, complete with little carved animals in third grade? I loved them. How about the indoor recess bin of Legos? Most of them were leftovers from my son’s collection. Do third grades still like Pete the Cat? I’m crazy about Pete. Okay, there was no way I decided, that I was giving up my Kevin Henkes collection or my Rosemary Wells. I was not convinced I should take any of these things with me. Possibly another ten years of teaching left and I needed to invest myself now in third grade curriculum and materials.
This was going to take some time. I walked to the pop machine and purchased another water. I found a bag of leftover microwave popcorn and watched the bag float around and around through the glass door . I munched. I realized now that it wasn’t the physical labor I was dreading but instead it was all of the decisions I needed to make.
I changed my focus and began to think about what I should leave the new teacher. I knew a couple of closets full of helpful materials could be a great start for her. I left her almost every “big book” I own and Pete the Cat. I created a box for my attic at home. Yes, I did place the hut and dear books I was unable to part with in that box. I focused my energy on the excitement of building a new book collection and made plans for a book sale to earn the funds. Happily I packed many of my picture books which would be helpful as mentor texts in third grade. I filled all of the yard waste bags and dozens of boxes. I returned day after day for a solid week.
When I closed my door for the last time I turned and surveyed the large, mostly empty room. There was only one decision left that I could not make. What should I do with the stuffed owl–the real, museum quality, Great Horned owl? He had papers that made it legal for him to be at school. The owl unit was not mine to keep. His new owner would have to decide his fate. I tucked his papers under his stand and stared into his marble eyes. “I’m out of here!” I thought as I walked out into my summer.
( The file cabinet and the book sale will be slices of their own!)