Thursday, August 13, 2020

First Things First

Remember that rollercoaster poem from last Friday? Well, we've dropped in. We're done with the ready and the set, and it's all go. This year, I'll be teaching at least the first semester in Dublin's Remote Learning Academy.

So much will be different this year, but just like every other year of my teaching career, I couldn't begin thinking about the nitty gritty details until I took care of a few other things first.

Before I could do anything else, I needed to get my physical classroom set up. I'm lucky enough to be able to teach from my room in the building, and I've designed a couple of spaces in my room for my teaching.

I moved my desk so that behind me is my big language arts bulletin board. There will be space for student work and new anchor charts. I'll make new homophone, homonym, and homograph charts that we'll fill together. I'll leave the message from Ibrahim and Mustafa to "Trust yourself, work hard, give your best effort every day!" and I'll figure out a way for us to continue the ritual of choosing a new word that we can BE each week of the school year.

I set up a place where I can stand to teach that will be perfect for math instruction. Behind me in this space is my number corner calendar and a whiteboard for math lessons. At the low table with the lamp is my doc camera. What you can get a hint of in the bottom left corner of the picture is that all the desks and chairs are stacked there in the middle of the classroom where our meeting area used to be.

This will be the perfect place to do live picture book read alouds. It will be like we're together in the picture book nook for #classroombookaday!

The next thing I had to attend to before I could focus on the nitty gritty was my classroom library. I'm still not sure how I'm going to get books in the hands of my students, but I want them to be able to browse the shelves of my physical classroom library. I created a slide show that has a table of contents and all the books "shelved" in one or more categories/genres. It's not pretty (yet), but I think it will work. I took photos of the covers of most all of my chapter books, plus some group shots of series books, cameos of some of my longer nonfiction books, and lots of my big anthologies of poetry. From the table of contents, a book browser can jump to any category, and from each category heading, the book browser can jump back to the table of contents. 

And now I'll work on my virtual classroom -- my Google Classroom.  This will be the perfect bridge to the nitty gritty. As I consider how to organize this space and what resources to add before we even get started, I will begin to be able to get my head around the ways I'll build community, assess my students' strengths and needs, and move forward with an amazing year of learning...for both the students, their families, AND me!! As Patrick Allen said it so perfectly, "Learning is a lifelong journey."


  1. You, Mary Lee, give me hope. I wish I was a child in your class. xx

  2. Oh, I love peeking into your space and seeing the preparations you've made for this school year. Keep us posted. Here's to a delightful beginning.

  3. Your classroom looks fantastic! I wish you the very best as you navigate the new virtual classroom and the new school year. Stay safe.

  4. I love how you're rising to this new challenge--wishing you and your students lots of fun, support, and learning.

  5. Thank you for giving us a sneak peek of the beginnings of this rollercoaster ride, Mary Lee. Your insights and adaptability are inspiring. Wishing you all the best as you move into the nitty gritty phase of your teaching. :)

  6. This brings me so much joy, Mary Lee. I've always known we'd make great teaching partners and now I'm sure. Here's to a safe, happy, learning-filled year!

  7. Thanks for such a positive, can-do post. We're starting with a hybrid set-up--back in the classroom with smaller class groups alternating in-school days. I haven't really been able to envision how it will work yet (this was just voted on late Wed.) but am looking forward to getting in and playing around in my library tomorrow.

  8. Oh wow. I see. We are in our home classrooms. Good luck, my friend--you will make it work!!!


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