Back to School Organizing

It never fails. A new school year approaches, and I am overcome with the NEED to organize my environment. Of course that includes my classroom environment, but often it carries over to my home life as well. I wonder if it felt a little more intense this year because my youngest child went off to college this month. All I know is that I have been consumed with organizing and RE-organizing my environments for the past five weeks.

It started simply – this summer, my son added electrical wiring to the walls of my home office so that we could install better lighting. Once he finished, I needed to tidy up the construction mess. Somehow, the chaos of the space inspired me to rethink how I use it. My desk moved out, I consolidated paper files into nearly half the space (while recycling a lot of paper!), and I’m moving in a comfy chair for reading. My own cozy retreat for reading – something that I’ve dreamed about. I credit the change to technology upgrades. I no longer need a desk to house my computer as a laptop is far more streamlined and portable than a desktop PC.

Then my classroom. I wondered last spring if I could possibly rearrange furniture and like it anywhere near as much as it was configured at the time. I loved the cozy “living room” feel of our classroom library, and I definitely didn’t want to lose that. That wondering must have percolated in my brain’s subconscious all summer long for after our first day of meetings, I started emptying bookcases and moving furniture around. I knew that I would have to live in it for a bit before I could commit to it with kids, and I wanted time to work in the room. Turns out, I love it and I can’t wait to see how we actually use our new classroom configuration. I kept my flexible work spaces and seating options because I think that control and choice is important for students. Registration is tomorrow, and I’m so curious to see what my former students think of the rearrangement.

Next? Our schedule and our curriculum! Our school adopted a new schedule for this school year. It seems to have a minimal impact on the Lower School, but to my everlasting gratitude, both fourth grade homerooms have identical specials schedules. That means that our fourth grade team has maximum planning time in our week. Thank goodness! While we see the good in it, it meant we needed to reexamine how we allocate our teaching time across the week within the larger schedule’s structure. I may also make a change in our Social Studies units later this school year. I’m letting those ideas stew in my brain, and I’ll be talking with the 5th grade team and department chair to flesh out the plan further. My co-teacher and I also want to improve what we’ve done with reading and writing instruction. I focused on reading this summer, and she contemplated writing. I’m excited to add Notice and Note signposts to our reading work this fall.

Whew, is there more?! Yep. I spent much time today cleaning and organizing in my house. I’d gotten sloppy about putting things away this summer, and I had piles of items to put into their “homes.” I now have a couple of boxes to donate to the thrift store down the street, I reorganized cleaning materials into baskets, I emptied my ironing board that I’d been using as a horizontal catch-all surface, and I returned books that had piled up to their rightful shelves or baskets. Definitely, whew!

And … I feel mostly ready for the new school year. “Mostly” because I’m never fully ready. There is always something else that I could do or change or make. I’m not trying to achieve perfection. Learning is messy, and I’m excited to start finding out about these individuals that will make up our new fourth grade community.


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