I have unshakable faith in children. They always show me the way. ♥

Thursday, August 21, 2008

finding tables...

It was not an easy day.

This year our first grade classrooms will have more students than we've had in the past. Oddly, nothing about having more students has worried me; it's been that I will have too many desks and that will lead to a space that doesn't feel adequate enough for my students (cozy, welcoming, with nooks and crannies for working, but with some clear open spaces). Desks take up more space and trying to arrange too many of them was really pushing the bounds of my creativity-with-physical-space.

When I taught in Boston, I always taught with tables. Here at my current school I've taught with desks, but sort of by default. When I moved to this school, my principal thought that there might not be enough tables at the school to have tables, and I never really pursued it. As well, having between 16 and 19 students, I was able to arrange desks into little pods of four that worked quite well.

This year, with 22 or 24 students, I would need six pods of four, and space-wise, I could not figure out how to make that happen while still keeping a large meeting area and a few other things. So, this was a good incentive for me to go back to what I'm used to: tables.

I didn't expect acquiring enough tables to be quite as difficult to achieve as it was. There were already two round tables in my room, and acquiring two more wasn't actually that hard. I'd wanted to get one round and two rectangle tables, but one of the custodians told me that there weren't any rectangle tables left in the storage unit. So, they brought me two rounds (yay!) and I was left with the task of finding/acquiring either a rectangle table or two trapezoids (which, when pushed together, make a lovely hexagon table).

This was no mean feat.

First, I found one trapezoid table in the lobby, in front of a display case, acting as a display table. I wanted that table! But, I knew that I'd have to find a replacement for it. Twenty minutes later, I'd found a half-round that a Kindergarten teacher wasn't using, so with the blessings of the ladies in the office, I brought that one down and half-dragged, half-carried the trapezoid table back to my room.

Then, I was on a quest to find the missing piece: another trapezoid.

After another twenty minutes or so, I found one in a room housing a few computers and tables for small group work with children. The teacher that uses that room thought that he could give me the trapezoid table and switch the computer to a smaller table. The only problem? The wooden finish on the tops of the two tables didn't match. One was a light brown faux-wood grain and the other a much darker one. Now, I will be the first to admit to a bit of OCD, in which it makes me slightly twitchy when there is an odd number of colored chairs or when I can't arrange things in a way that makes sense aesthetically to me, but these two tables would have just looked wrong.

So, then, off to find a trapezoid table that would match one of the existing two that I could swap out. That took another thirty minutes, but it was finally accomplished.

After that, I had all of the tables I needed, and was able to arrange the room into a layout that felt right. Of course (as is almost necessary in a story like this) there was still the matter of lowering all the tables, because they were far too high for six year olds. That involved finding someone that owned Allen wrenches of multiple sizes, a bruised foot from when I dropped one of the tables on it, and a few muttered curse words as rusty screw threads made some of the adjustment difficult.


The good thing is that I'm really happy with the layout of the room. I think there is enough open space for stretching out and working, but not too much to promote chaos. My next steps are to sort through a lot of my books and make a "give away" pile, as well as buy a few larger plants for the room. I have a tendency to pile things on counters and open spaces and if there are more plants around, I imagine I'll be less likely to want to interrupt the beauty of the plants.

Ahhh, so this entry is far too long already, so I'll post pictures of the classroom (so far) tomorrow.

Hope you are all having a lovely day. ♥


Jenny said...

I read this with two thoughts. One, sympathy and understanding because we've all been there, struggling to make our classroom space work the way we want. Second, wishing for pictures. I was so glad to read the end and am looking forward to seeing the pics.

Katie said...

I laughed out loud at this post b/c I don't think you are OCD at all! I would have been the SAME way-- finishes don't match, so table won't work!

Good thing you finally got one that worked-- despite the bruised foot. [ouch] :(

Ms. Swamp said...

Yay for tables!

Although, as I move up to second grade this year, I am going to have desks, and I'm kind of excited about the change. Desks (if you have the space and not too many students) offer the flexibility of being able to be made into tables, but also allowing for individual workspace for those who needs quiet. So, yay for desks too!