This week, I have been in my classroom getting set up for the new year.
Technically, teachers aren't required to return until next week.
There are usually hours and hours of meetings.
A lot of people want and need my attention for Professional Development.
I like to socialize and catch up with people.
My teacher team will meet at least once to plan the start of the year.
Mostly though, I just can't work 14 hour days the first couple of weeks.
It is beyond my physical capacity.
Instead, I elect to start early and work a few hours a day for a week or two before our official return.
Plus, I promised my significant other we could go out of town this weekend.
So, I've spent a few hours a day in my room this week (and, to be honest, last week).
One of the benefits of my early in turtle strategy of prepping for the new year is free labor.
Our district hosts a program where a handful of students are employed to work with the custodial team.
Towards the end of the summer, they don't always have a ton of tasks left to accomplish...
Which means the boss will usually let me abscond with a teen or two to do my heavy lifting.
It gets better.
This year several kids unloaded my car for me and unpacked boxes and moved books and arranged furniture.
One young lady, let's call her Teresa, went further.
Teresa is going to be a Senior this year. I had her as a freshman.
She has worked with me on my room the last couple of summers.
This summer, she was able to stick around and help me get genuinely and actually organized...like cleaned out my desk for the first time in years organized.
She did a great job.
Her attitude is always stellar, but this summer, I also saw how much she has matured,
She made suggestions, took initiative, corrected me when I flubbed (as in, "um, if that goes there, the kids will probably mess with it, Ms, Hirsch." me "Duh, thank you, I probably should've thought of that!").
The best moment, though, was when she basically gave me homework.
We had been clearing out drawers and sorting through the detritus littering my desk and shelves.
Most of the larger items had been stored and had a sensible home.
The surface of my desk, however, remained strewn with odds and ends: paper clips, post its, erasers, tiny screws, and extra ear bud covers.
I was, admittedly, getting pretty frustrated.
That happens when I realize I have more storage than I can effectively use. As a hoarder, this is a horror.
Anyway, as I sat staring at the mess trying to figure out what to do next, Teresa looked over and said
"Ms. Hirsch, you need some small containers."
I replied, "I feel like I used to have some, but clearly not anymore."
"Go to the dollar store and get some for tomorrow," she answered.
"Wait, are you really recommending I buy more stuff?" I asked, stunned.
No one in their right mind ever thinks I need more stuff (I think I do, but the consensus on how right my mind is on this matter excludes my opinion from consideration).
Teresa looked over at me and smiled "I can't believe it either, but yeah, get some containers."
She insisted that we would not be able to finish my desk or my room without them.
Wow. Just wow.
How awesome is that? This young lady had the maturity to see a solution to a problem and insist I solve it.
So I did my homework.
She was right. I needed some small containers.
Yesterday, we were able to pretty much complete the organizing of my space for the new year.
We even figured out and new and more effective system for organizing and storing student art supplies.
She is growing up.
And taking me to school.
That is a very good thing indeed!