Moving Classrooms – Part 2

Written on

June 8, 2023

The Vinsons name their cars. My SUV is Sally. Wally’s four door sedan is Henry. Riley drives a Sonata named Peggy. I came up with Sally’s name on a whim. I don’t rightly know how Henry was named. But, I can tell you that Peggy was named after Eliza Hamilton’s younger sister, now best known from her Broadway musical fame.

When it came time to clean out my classroom and move it to another middle school across town, the family came to pitch in and help. We filled Henry, Peggy and Sally on the first day. I did one last load in Sally on day two as I transitioned not only from one school to the next, but also from 6th to 7th grade.

The first school, the school I left, had set up a “free table” in the front hall. It quickly became a swap meet of supplies as one teacher’s trash became another teacher’s treasure. While I haven’t been teaching long, I had been “blessed” with all kinds of “treasures” from veteran teachers seeking to help me get going. While some items proved to be immensely helpful, other items were not so much and I made several trips to the “free table” in the hopes of someone else finding a use for the posters, supplies and books that were just gathering dust in the back of the cabinet. I found myself smiling when I saw another teacher toting away something that I had donated. That item would have a life and a purpose beyond me.

The second school, the one I was moving to, had already been cleared of the desks and tables and chairs when I arrived. The custodial staff was preparing their annual deep cleaning of the floor so everything had been neatly emptied into the hallway. My task was now to move my 4 car loads of teaching paraphernalia into the room without consuming any floor space.

The good news was that my room had counter space and spacious mounted shelves that I could use to house my boxes and crates until I was ready – and the custodians were too – to set up the room and make it my own. The bad news was that the second school, my new school, didn’t have a “free table” set up. The teacher who had been in “my” room before it was mine, had sought to bless me with items and books that she no longer needed for instruction with the hopes that I would be able to use these things. There was no room for my things while these things remained. The new-to-me room was far from a blank slate.

By asking a few questions as to what I could do with these items, I quickly had lots of help in getting them removed. My new co-workers, from administration on down, came to my assistance. The teacher who had formerly occupied “my” space, joined the effort as well. Soon, my desired blank-slate-of-a-room took shape and I had moved in my things.

Later in the summer, sometime late next month, I will attempt to take this blank slate and transform it into a welcoming space that all the learners that enter its door will feel so welcome and able to learn in it that it will become “our” classroom. In the meantime I will mentally arrange and rearrange desk/table placements and poster configurations until I start literally dreaming about what it will all look like come the first day of school.

As I have gone through this moving process, I have had lots of people ask me how I feel about moving schools. Honestly, it has been a real mix of emotions. I have loved the place I’ve left and I am excited about the place I am transitioning into. One thing I have said to countless people is that I am eager to compare an average student from the “old” school to an average student at the “new’ school. How will they be alike? How will they be different? I want to be objective in my comparisons, but I am thinking that may be easier said than done.

With the best intentions, and the most optimistic outlooks, I still brought 4 car loads of “stuff” with me into the new space. Sure, I left some things behind, but what I brought far out weighs what I left. Even the new space isn’t without nicks on the walls and broken pencils under the filling cabinets.

As I settle in, I need to be keenly aware that old biases and habits can creepily return and that I must be intentional not rely on former ways of thinking. I want to continue to learn and grow as teacher, as a person, but, most importantly as a Christ-follower.

Just as I know God placed me at the first school, I know He is placing me at the second. He already knows which students will sit at what desks and He has put them in my classroom for a divine purpose. Teaching in any school is teaching in a mission field. He will use this school, like He did the last, to grow me as His disciple. I pray He will use me in this school even more than He did in the first.

I refuse to sequester myself solely around other believers. I seek to fulfill the commandment Jesus gave before He ascended into heaven – to go and make other disciples. I embrace this opportunity to engage my community with good news.

It may have taken 4 car loads and a whole lotta help. I left some things behind and have already gained new. The location of “my” classroom may have moved across town. The transition is far from over. However, the “why” and the”what” that I am doing remains the same, that Christ might be glorified in and through me.

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