I have been working on a post about moving from the classroom to a museum setting, and my biggest issue has been how do you start, and how long of a post do I want to create? Without the past I can’t really compare the present, so I guess I will start at the beginning, with my first day teaching.
I worked in an inner city school district in Connecticut for about four or five years. I will admit it was rough, my first day in the classroom I came home after work and sat on the couch and just dreaded having to go back; there may have been a drink and some tears as well.
My first classroom was horrible, I was replacing a teacher who was fired, or forced to retire, taking over his class half way through the school year. I was told on my first day my job was to keep the kids under control, basically keep them quiet and in the room. I was not given a curriculum, or any lesson plans, just thrown into the deep end of the pool and expected to stay afloat. As I started my second day I realized my priory had to be the room.
The classroom was a mess, the building was falling apart, and for those of you who think movies over do bad schools, you’re wrong; they don’t do them justice. In my first few days I realized that the teaching environment was as important as the subjects. Along with the kids, we cleaned the room, emptying filing cabinets full of old papers stuffed in the drawers along with old food and drinks. There was more than one occasion that a mouse ran out of the bottom of the cabinets; upset we were destroying their home and food sources. Once we cleaned out the junk, filling multiple large garbage cans for days, the room still looked like a war zone. I could not imagine how kids were expected to focus on anything.
We had a winter break and while the students were gone, I cleaned all the boards, scrubbed every inch of the room, removing all the graffiti and dirt. I repainted the room myself from top to bottom, covering the walls with posters and decorations to hide the exposed brick under the crumbling wallboards. When they retuned they were amazed to see a clean room, and I was ready to work.
Cleaning the room through was only the first step in getting things under control. Getting the kids in line was a whole different story…..