Setting Up for the Classroom

I’ve just spent the last 5 hours helping The Wife set up her classroom for the upcoming school year. It’s her first time as a teacher, and she’s a bit nervous about her new assignment. Over the years she’s had to deal with drug addicts, ex-cons, perverts, Stalinist bosses, and undead kung-fu ninjas, but nothing has — or could have — prepared her for what she’s about to face: inner city youth. (Insert blood curdling scream.)

Her day started at about 6:30 A.M., when she drove out to the school so she could start working on her classroom. The place was a mess, and with just one day until open house (yes, it’s on a Sunday), slacking off was not an option. She had planned to work on the classroom a bit before getting together with her group leader (or teaching mentor, as she’s called) to plan out the first week. As it turns out, she got to work on it a lot; her mentor bumped their planning session until tomorrow.

Normally, this wouldn’t have been such a big deal. But the problem was that The Wife was already nervous, a bit down, and feeling way unprepared, so this just added to the desperation. Lucky for her, she had already told me last night that I had to go out and help her. In retrospect, I’m glad she did.

This morning I had gone out to the gym for a bit of exercise. My back had been bothering me, and though I’ve recently lost some weight (yae!), I still hadn’t gone out to the gym in at least 3 weeks. I guess it was the combination of the excercise, the vitamins I took beforehand, the rhodiola, and the energy drink I had after exercising (no sugar, tons of vitamin B12 — gotta love that XS!), but when I was finished I was feeling seriously good, and seriously energized. Helping The Wife out would be no problem at all. (Insert Tim Allen grunts.)

Today was the first day I saw where The Wife is going to be working for the next year, at least. The school doesn’t look too bad (for a penitentiary), with its salmon colored walls and surrounding neighborhood. Although it’s in a pretty crappy area of town, it’s not as bad as it could be. Then again, this is Florida, and the school system generally sucks. Not that it’s under-funded, mind you, but the people running the system haven’t exactly cleaned up any messes lately. To their credit, they haven’t made any big ones recently, either. But I digress…

As I entered the classroom I got a glimpse of what the next five hours held in store for me. At least, before I was assaulted with a cacaphony of color. The room, which had beige walls and a gray floor, had apparently been decorated by Mr Crayola himself. Each wall was decorated with the patented “73 colors per wall” decor, and the room’s organization scheme had been done by Dali himself, following the “everything everywhere, all the time” rule. (Simple, no?) I doubt however that Dali would have decided on a mold-green, 6-foot by 4-foot bulletin board with electric pink borders matching beautifully with a 5-foot by 2-foot bright yellow bulletin board with bright green borders. It was like watching a soccer match between Brazil and Retard-landia, one where the prize is seizures, all around.

Remember now, I had already exercised, had an energy drink, and took some seriously good vitamins. I was already energetic. But seeing “Joseph’s Technicolor Dream Room” made my brain go haywire. I know I have a history of being easily mentally stimulated, but this… this was painful, and put my head into massive overdrive. Not only was I bouncing from wall to wall, but now I couldn’t keep myself from trying to ransack the whole room and start the decoration process from scratch, and I made sure The Wife knew it! I felt like all the books had to be put away, bulletin boards had to be destroyed, and I had to re-arrange every desk in the room. And all of this had to be done all at the same time: now.

This, of course, ticked off The Wife after a bit. Normally, she has the patience of a tree (God bless her for that!), but today I just went way overboard. “The colors, man! The colors!” The room’s decor had gotten the best of me, and I just couldn’t calm down. It was during this time that a thought came to me: if I, an adult, couldn’t keep from going totally ballistic because of all the color, how the heck were a bunch of six year olds supposed to do so?! I had to do something.

The Wife, staying cool-headed as always, eventually found a few things for me to do: put up boards, set up desks, and re-decorate a couple of the walls. (I have never gotten so much pleasure from tearing down decorations, even really ugly ones. Though in the ugly department, these weren’t denizens: these were gods.) During this time, she cleaned up the mess in the room, organized books, baskets, tapes, and supplies.

By the time 5:30 rolled around we were feeling pretty good about (most of) the room. We had decided that the room really didn’t need bulletin boards all over the place, since the kids would likely be the biggest catalyst by which the room would be decorated. We also settled on a blue/yellow theme for most of the room, with a few accents here and there. (Light blue bulletin boards, yellow borders, maybe even red letters. Heck, a bit like John Hesch’s blog, which as a really good color scheme going for it.) Come to think of it, the room started to look a bit like my 5th grade classroom, which was the first classroom I can really remember. Not as nice, but close enough for it to be a good thing.

Anyway, I’ll be back tomorrow, since there’s still a bit of work to do on the room’s looks. The Wife also needs to be there to meet the kids and their parents, but that’s something I don’t see myself involved with. (I think I’ll sneak out and go over to Barnes and Noble during that time.) I’ll take a few pics of the room and post them on the site so you can see what we have to work with, and since I’m sure she’ll want to remember what today was like. I’d post the pics of how the classroom looked like beforehand, but I wouldn’t want to to start frothing at the mouth and shaking in a seizure-like fashion, or blasting puke at your screen. I’ll leave the puke-blasting to the kids. And the clean up to the school janitor.

2 thoughts on “Setting Up for the Classroom

  1. You need proof the school system is horribly, horribly mismanaged in florida, do you, DO YOU!

    I am a product of the Florida school system…..that should be everything you need.

    I can only offer two pieces of advice
    1) Have a classroom Diety =P
    2) Can distract children with shiny clicky pens

  2. Good luck.. I will be entering the job force this next semster.. looking for a job.. in the schools.. so I will be in her place.. sooner then later.. scarey thought.. and expecting our second little miracle..

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