Slice of Life: The Classroom Keys

Yesterday, I got my classroom keys.  Now, time feels a little bit tighter.

Mornings now include a stop at school to drop something off, run a few copies, check in on the status of my room (is the carpet cleaned?). Classroom supplies are the focus, grocery shopping an afterthought.

Yesterday,  my errands included a trip to JoAnn’s. I entered telling myself: Just. Choose. The. Cheapest. Fabric. You’d think after years of teaching, this would not be a big deal. Yet, I stood there debating. I know this fabric will disappear once we start generating charts, and still, I stood there, thinking. Purple? No, blue. Red? Too much. Does orange make you hungry?  Silly. I walk out with a blue nondescript fabric. Ah well, I accomplished the cheap mandate. Total cost translated into the cost of one paperback book.

Yesterday, I got my class list. Now, the abstract of planning had children’s faces attached.  The list included names of former students’ siblings, a boatload of neighborhood kiddos (even though I’m teaching magnet students that come from around the district), names that come from diverse heritages. These are my kiddos for the coming year. The ones I’ll find books with and for, the ones who will design contraptions, ask questions, and write a lot. These are the ones that will make me smile and test out my ability to lean into who they are as humans.

Yesterday, I read Jess Lifshitz recent blog post on how she plans to begin her year. Her post and Carla Shalaby’s book Troublemakers, has me thinking about questions to ask on our first day; how to establish a classroom that honors each others’ needs. A room where we could, in Shalaby’s words, “create a parallel world — a world that is safer, fairer, freer… the world we want, hope for, dream of, rather than the world we have now.”  A world to learn, grow and if needed heal in.

What if, we open up and ask kiddos to think of ways to live and learn together. What if we listen for each other’s goodness. What if we can make this classroom, not like school, but like learning.


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesdays. Thank you for this place that gets me to writing. Read more posts here.




10 thoughts on “Slice of Life: The Classroom Keys

  1. Yes, it’s that time! I’ve been cruising the back-to-school aisles, trying not to buy too much! Haven’t been very successful at keeping myself from buying books. First teacher day is Tuesday… just a week away! Have a good year with your new students!

  2. I love listening in as everyone starts the back-to-school dance! I’m wondering how you’ll use the blue fabric. And I love this sentence from your slice: “A world to learn, grow and if needed heal in.” Here’s to creating that world in your classroom!

  3. May you have a smooth transition from the summer to school. Getting ready physically, mentally and emotionally can be exciting and stressful at the same time. As an experienced teacher you know that relationship building matters the most at first. The question “How might we best learn and live together?” is a caring question to ask, and from the start gives agency to the students.

  4. We’ve been having similar discussions at my school. I love your goal to “listen for each other’s goodness.” I suspect we know more than we give ourselves credit for about creating these learning spaces. The trick is balancing the district & society’s demands with what we know is best for kids. Looking forward to hearing more about your journey, Julieanne!

  5. Julieanne, your post was a credo to creating a safe haven for children to learn beyond the limits of schooling, to unlock the uniqueness of each child to find the goodness within, There are so many reflective thoughts within your post that should be read by many as school starts strong. I look forward to how you journey on with this new crop of little seedlings.

  6. Julieanne, one of the things that I look forward to at the beginning of every school year is that moment when the secretary finally releases the class lists to teachers. I open the folder and pore over the names one by one. I picture the kids I know and wonder about those whom I don’t know. I try to memorize their names. I start to get excited about this new adventure with a new class. I still have about 6 weeks before I meet them, but your post gave me goose bumps in anticipation of finally knowing who will be in my classroom. Have a great start to your year!

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