You know, my ambitions were grand when I first became a teacher. I was going to have THAT classroom -- the well-coordinated, welcoming, colourful, well-organized classroom where little Disney-esque bluebirds flit around your head singing beautiful melodies as you enter the room.
Flash forward, to a mere four years since my teacher's college graduation... and I've already learned that it is NOT all that realistic to be THAT teacher. It's not realistic to follow those AMAZING ideas you see on blogs for a perfectly colour-coordinated classroom. It's not realistic to believe that your students will be able to take care of any belongings, shelving, books, ANYTHING LABELLED in any way that will keep your classroom looking organized and gorgeous past the first day of school (even if your kids are TEN-YEARS-OLD in the fourth grade). It just isn't realistic that every project and note home will have gorgeous, fancy fonts that you can later upload to Teachers Pay Teachers.
Frankly, all those AMAZINGLY PRETTY-AND-UNATTAINABLE-CLASSROOM teachers... I admire them, am jealous of them... but man. I've already learned that the bar they have set is too high to reach. Every time I move classrooms, I lose stuff or lose some of my colour-coordination because I need to replace some bins, or other items, and nothing matches from before. Every year I spend my own money on certain things to "beautify and organize" the classroom, and by October the kids have smashed it, lost pieces of it, stepped on it and left it on the floor.... only to either leave me with messy, ugly used stuff the next year... otherwise having to buy BRAND NEW STUFF after only 10 months of use out of my own pocket. Forget that.
Also, our caretaking staff barely cleans or dusts ANYTHING, and especially seem to rebel against cleaning furniture or extra carpets that were not originally in the classroom... so unless I just want more stuff to collect dust and dirt, it's not even worth having pretty IKEA things in my classroom.
Frankly, It's OKAY for it to be like this! I've already learned the importance of work-life balance. I take my time to keep working at the school until 5 or 5:30 every day -- a nice, typical work day. When I go home, I try VERY HARD not to bring too much home with me (there's always SOMETHING to do, but I try to keep it small). I've learned that I am a better, in-the-moment, engaged-with-students teacher when I am putting my 100% effort in during the school day, and am recharging by doing something OTHER than being a teacher in the evenings. I've learned that I value my kids at school most when I am not really worrying over my classroom being perfectly matchy-matchy. A lot of you who read this are parents, I bet keeping your kids play areas and bedrooms at times is a hassle... multiply those rooms by having 23 kids of the same age (at least) in them... forget it! We "tidy up", but we don't have to have matchy bins to do that.
So, while I admire, and am quite jealous, of the insanely well-coordinated, matchy!!!, nature-inspired full-day kindergarten demonstration classroom I saw tonight... forget it. I'm going to try REALLY HARD not to get worked up over not being able to do the very same thing.
Sometimes, you need to just be REAL, and teach kids in a REAL way... not everything has to coordinate! So, there's my very blah blog post about my somewhat blah at times classroom. You know what though, my kids will remember me for the lessons they've learned and the respect I gave them... not for having matching bins and baskets for them to forget to put their stuff in every day.
P.S. Unless I get a permanent position elsewhere, looks like I'm in for another change next year - a senior kindergarten/grade one split class (SK/1 they call it). I'm actually VERY excited to move back down to early learning... bring it on! It's also the first year our school will have the new Full-Day Kindergarten program, so it will be very interesting!