"The thistle is a prickly flower, aye, but how it is sweetly worn."

Saturday, August 31, 2013

My New Classroom :)

This past week was my first week of school at my new school.  I am just in heaven.  I am hoping to temper this post with as much love and respect as I can for Title 1.  As most of you know I have taught in 80% + low SES schools for the last 6 years.  For me, this is my 7th year of teaching, and I'm terming it "My Year of Jubilee" as taken from Leviticus 25.  

Title 1 requires your mind, body, soul, emotions, everything.  You are a slave to those kids.  I truly poured myself out like a drink offering for those kids.  I don't regret a single second of that experience.  God taught me so much about myself and how much daily life was dependent on His presence.  I put counting 1000 gifts into practice with those kids.  And it was HARD to find things to be thankful for when no one can read in 2nd grade, CPS is involved in 3+ children's lives, you aren't sure if one of your parents hooks for a living or not, your drug baby has no emotional control and the smallest things cause her to break down, the angry child can't NOT roll her eyes and smart off at you for the smallest request, etc, etc.  They helped me make thanks-living not just a discipline, but a habit.  I am beyond thankful for them all.

But this is my year of Jubilee.  And I feel the Lord giving me back my soul, and my strength, and my love for teaching.  Just like slaves were returned during this year, I feel like I've been returned, redeemed, and rejuvenated.  I love everything about my new school.  I love that my principal considers himself a "teacher of teachers".  I am so thrilled to learn from him and my assistant principal.  I love that my assistant principal goes to my church, and I get to rest assured that her actions- even should I ever disagree with them- are ultimately founded in Christ.  What a comfort!  I love that I am on a team where all 5 team members contribute ideas, are strong teachers, have amazing work ethic, and are hilarious and fun to be around.  I love that I have 22 kids that when I say get out a pencil they just automatically say 'yes ma'am'.  I wouldn't have even asked them to say yes maam for that.  I love their joy and love of learning.  I love that I don't have to force them to do anything school related- they already love it.  They aren't perfect, but I sure am not going to have to perform stunts to engage them.  I thought I loved teaching before.  But looking back, I ended each day emotionally tired and frustrated.  Now, I end each day only physically tired.  Emotionally though, I'm just full of joy.  I don't walk in with some amount of dread each morning praying that I have the patience to deal with my special friend's anger and antics.  Title 1 took every emotional cell out of me.  I'm so thankful to just love on my kids and truly teach.  After 5 days, I still am excited about the year.  That's never, ever happened.  (Except maybe my 09-10 year- those kids were amazing)  

I'm not saying it's perfect or that kids are perfect or parents are perfect.  They are human.  And there will still be days that are hard.  But they will just be days.  Not every single day.  When I'm praying over my class in the morning, I have this vision of myself in a dimly lit classroom.  And it's only lit by me.  Like there is this angelic light surrounding me, which I assume is the Holy Spirit.  And I know my presence in my classroom will have a purpose.  I am still called to be a light to all these kids, to love them like Christ loves the little children.  And I know I am pouring my heart out to be Christ's hands, feet, and heart to them all.  And I see that calling every time I have this vision if you will.  I really believe God has something up his sleeve with showing me this.  So I pray I stand firm in Him and am what He has placed me there to be.  But no matter what, I am just 1000x thankful, because I know the amount of peace He has just poured onto my Year of Jubilee.  And my heart overflows.

And now for a tour of my room :)

 My reading area:  reading chair, lamps, library books, cafe reading wall, word collector wall, my handmade curtains, my cozy reading genre pics...

 My testing table, my writers workshop clips, my child accessible math manipulatives, other resources...

 My ode to the prairie with my Kirsten American Girl doll, Kirsten books, Texas books, Cajun Night Before Christmas, Word Wall, Display shelves, family pictures, birds, my thistle, my Little House on the Prairie collection, the big frame on the left now has my quote "grace is reality" in it- my constant reminder to offer grace for all the tears, frustrations, and imperfections that enter my room...

 My desk area- I've kind of changed up this display, but it has my reminder to choose joy and that it is well, my calendar and math area with child accessible number line, places for math words, and all the math I want to incorporate into my calendar...

 My signature room "Australia" for kiddos who are having a rough day.  I always read "Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day" and explain that kids can go here if they are overwhelmed by their emotions.  It also doubles as a cozy reading spot.

 Close up of my display area.  Including my hippie duck given to me by a former student, my 2 gnomes I got from 2 different teacher secret pals.  Also I covered the front of the shelves with decorative masking tape.  I am pretty much in love with it.  I love how it makes the white pop out and gives it this calming seaside feel.

Some more close up of my tape.  Really really pleased with how this turned out!


katebradley said...

I LOVE how your classroom looks - very inviting. And I even more LOVE that you are so happy at your new school. (And PS I also did LOVE the 09-10 class of 2nd graders). I wonder what it would be like to teach in a non-title school...maybe one day I'll give it a try :) Happy School Year!!!!!

ThistleAshD said...

Next time you give teaching a try, I'm going to suggest that you come teach at Savannah so we can be team members again ;)

Class of 09-10 for life friend!