Sunday, August 22, 2010

Shells and Classrooms

My daughter Kate has a new position at a start-up school. When she entered the building last Tuesday, her classroom was a shell. The walls were bare and there was no furniture. So this past week I had the privilege of helping my daughter set up her first grade classroom. Several teachers—even veteran ones-- had their parents and spouses helping. Kate had ideas, a theme, a plan, creativity and lots of enthusiasm. There were moments when an idea didn’t quite work out and despite using a level to hang fabric for bulletin boards, the outcome was crooked and we started all over again. We experimented with furniture placement and tried to find the best structure and flow.We started early and worked until past 8 pm without air conditioning. It was a very hot North Carolina day and when we got home, we could wring out our clothes.

I noticed several things while I was at the school.

All the teachers worked long hours to set up their rooms. They worked hard! I wonder how many really appreciate their dedication or recognize that they work far more than a school calendar. They assume a lot of personal expense which is also a surprise to most people.

The teachers didn’t go it alone. They wanted and accepted help.

As we walked down the hall, we could see that the individual personalities of the teachers emerged in their theme and the way they set up their room. When teachers stopped in each other’s rooms and looked, they shared ideas, gave encouragement, offered helpful suggestions to each other, and asked and answered questions.

All the time and hard work has been worth it! After three days, the room moved from a shell to a beautiful classroom complete with furniture, a theme, and lots of color. It’s just waiting for a group of six year olds!

Not all of us are teachers, but we work hard, and often long hours. We “rearrange” plans and schedules, some to our liking and some with resistance. Life isn’t always “level”. The colors of our day may be bold, pastel and gray. We "sweat" through experiences. We wonder about our theme and where we are headed. We may not feel appreciated or recognized. We may try to do it all alone or we accept help. We give and receive encouragement and even criticism. Many of us have had to start over. Often we sacrifice at great personal expense, If we look back on our life we see that our “shell”—where we started--has gone through transformation and though still a work in progress, a unique “classroom” has emerged.

Tell us! What is something in your life that has contributed to your becoming a unique classroom? What does it look like? How did it change from a shell to beauty?

Still changing,