My school doesn't start back until next week, but we've been in workshops for two weeks already! Today we had time to set up our classrooms and let me tell you--I'm making as few changes as possible. Sure, if there are some things that I think will help the learning process, I'll switch those around, but for the most part, the setup is a no-brainer. I'm keeping what worked and just adding even more labels. In an elementary school classroom, there is really no such thing as over-labeling. Not only does the scissor box have a label, but the shelf spot where the scissor box goes--yep. Also labeled.
I know that whole scissor box sounds fascinating, but today I unpacked and set up something even more terrific--if you can believe it. My teacher mailbox.
Yes, this mailbox has had a rich and storied existence as receptacle for all manner of notes from students, and I thought it fitting to pay tribute to it as I prepare to usher in a new year of mail from students.
Students write to me when they just can't get along with their tablemates or when they're sad in an unspecified but genuine way. They write to investigate rumors or to wish me a happy holiday (under duress). I've gotten notes about sore posteriors, corrections of other kids' notes, and even a petition complete with illustration.
While the mailbox often serves as tattle-box, it can also be helpful as a place for a student to jot me a note that some replacement supply is needed, without interrupting class. One year I particularly enjoyed Trina's memorandum-style note, documenting the precise time she requested a replacement folder. However, it can be dangerous to mix mailbox requests with overall fourth grade venting.
One morning, the school day was unfolding in a particularly challenging way for fourth grade Becky. I had told Becky to stop talking and get back to work one too many times for her liking, and a name-calling-related "time out" had resulted in heavy fuming rather than any plans to stop calling names. Against this backdrop of generalized "teachers are unfair" ire, Becky suddenly found herself out of blank pages in her writing journal. What to do when you're mad at your teacher but in desperate need of a new tablet? I can only imagine her long, fume-filled walk over to my mailbox.
The mailbox, though, has seen its fair share of notes from the more positive fourth grade days.
Who knows what bounty the mailbox will bring this next year!
Mailbox image: www.hardwarestore.com