Sunday, August 29, 2010

What do teachers do?

As I begin this third year of teaching, I realized that I forgot to do something I promised myself I would do at the beginning of my first and second years of teaching!  When I walked into my classroom two(ish) weeks ago and looked around at the blank bulletin boards...

 stacks of desks and chairs...

the stuffed closet...

and I wondered,

"Where do I start with all this?!"  

What should I do first?  What all do I need to do?  I know I'll need to buy new stuff...but what all do I need to get?  Wouldn't it be nice if I had a pre-made To Do list for all the beginning of the year things that need doing?

"I should make a list as I go," I tell myself.  Then, next year I'd have that To Do list!  Unfortunately by the time that thought crosses my mind, I've already unloaded three boxes from the closet, put up half my calendar board, organized some desk supplies, and several other things that I can't quite remember.  So the Beginning of the Year Master To Do List has been postponed yet again.  Oh, well!

Sometimes people ask what I have to do to get ready for a new year (or a new week!) of school; or why I go in to school so early (I usually start back about a week before the official teacher work days start).  They can't fathom what in the world could take so much time.  I won't tell you everything that I do (obviously--I can't remember everything anyway!), but I will tell you something I did this weekend that took hours (even with Matt helping me for part of it).

At the beginning of the year, we get a huge shipment of new workbooks for the kids.  Each kid gets a spelling book, a phonics workbook, and four (yes, four) math workbooks--one for each quarter.  All the pages come in a bound, paperback book.  We don't give the books to the kids (too much for a 1st grader), so we tear out the pages.  Then we can hand out just the page they'll need for the day's lesson.  

Let's do some math, shall we?

Each student gets...
4 workbooks...
each workbook has 150 pages...
and we have 26 students this year.

So that equals...?

15,600 pages

That is a lot of pages to tear.  Now, I'm not crazy.  There is no way on earth that I would tear out that many pages and file them.  I hand off most of the work to eager parent volunteers.  However, we begin using the math workbooks on the fourth day of school, so I need to have several pages ready to go.  I also don't want to start the year with an email to parents asking for a huge favor right off the bat.  So I worked on tearing and organizing pages from just the first of the four workbooks.  It's enough for the 1st quarter.  But even with just one book, it's 150 pages for each of 26 students.  That's still 3,900 pages to tear out.

I tore out all the pages on Saturday afternoon.  Matt helped a little bit with this part, but...well, he's not the best with tearing along perforated lines.  So I told him he could help with step two.  After I was finished tearing, I looked at my big stack of papers.  26 stacks of pages for 26 students.  Now I needed to organize them--because I'll be handing out all the page 1s for the first math lesson.  I needed stacks consisting of all the page ones, all the page twos, all the page 100s, etc.  Matt helped me make stacks of the pages and paper clipped them together.  

In total, it probably took us about 3 hours to tear, stack, and organize all these pages.  Now they're sitting in my blue crate ready to be taken back to the school on Monday and filed into my filing cabinet.  All nice and neat.  

So that's one of the things I get to do at the beginning of the school year.  It's a lot of work, but it all ends up getting done :-)

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