New Spaces and Tidy Boxes

I’ve spent most of this summer in preparation. Buying apartment necessities for the space I haven’t moved into, signing tons and tons of papers for a job I haven’t started, and creating documents and lists of lesson plans for students I haven’t met.

I find myself with categorized lists, writing everything I need to get and every task I need to accomplish down on paper, on tidy lines in hand-made boxes on the page where I can control them. Somehow, I thought, if I have everything planned ahead of time, I’ll prove myself to be a successful post-grad that has it all together.

But in the midst of all the planning, I find myself wanting to stuff next year into these tidy little boxes. All of my lesson ideas in one box, the perfect way I anticipate relating to others in another box. I want to compartmentalize and prepare for how I’m going to eat perfectly, run all the time, find the perfect community, and be the best teacher every student loves.

To compensate for trying to make all of these uncontrollable things perfect, I’ve been obsessed with trying to create the textbook classroom right now. I’ve spent hours on Pinterest, weighing different organization strategies and attendance methods, creating and then deleting documents because they’re not good enough. I’ve scrolled through hundreds of pictures of classrooms, writing down how mine needs to look in order to create the best possible atmosphere for learning. I’ve worried about forgetting something and have tried to anticipate ever scenario that might arise in that space next year.

In the midst of a freak-out, I was in the car with my mom when she made me stop rambling and told me that nothing has to be perfect the first day.

Nothing has to be perfect the first day.

I don’t have to have every decoration up in my classroom, every bookshelf perfectly organized, or every picture on my desk in adorable frames. All I need to start is some space, some desks, and some students.

And regarding next year, I don’t have to have all the right answers to all the questions, the cutest teaching wardrobe, or the ideal community. That stuff happens along the way.

So, if your transitioning too, it’s ok if your classroom, apartment, or workspace isn’t perfect the day you move in.

It’s ok if you don’t have everything you think you need.

It’s ok to give yourself grace if you don’t have everything figured out—you’re not supposed to.

Here’s a reminder, for you and for me: it’s ok if you’re not completely ready for what’s next. In fact, it’s probably best that you aren’t, because we most clearly recognize God’s work in the process of figuring everything out as we go while we learn to rely on Him.

If you’re like me, stop trying to stuff your life into tidy boxes and plan everything ahead of time. Give yourself some grace, show up the first day, and get started.

One thought on “New Spaces and Tidy Boxes

  1. Congrats on your new teaching job. I have been teaching for 20 years and I always get excited about decorating my classroom. Don’t go overboard with systems you can’t possibly maintain. Pick five to master and add more each year: attendance, grade book, lesson plans, where/how kids will turn in work, and restroom passes. That should get you started. Oh, and a place for kids to get work they missed without coming to you.

    Remember that your classroom is your home, so make it fit who you are; your students are your daily guests, so make them feel comfy and cozy.

    Check out Rick Wormeli’s Day One and Beyond…it’s a better choice than Harry Wong’s First Days of School.

    The kids will notice your energy more than they’ll notice anything else. Greet them at the door each day. And here’s some advice from a college professor of mine years ago: “Remember that you might be the only person who talks to a kid all day.” That has helped me see each student each day, and, trust me, sometimes the day goes so fast you won’t remember to pee.

    Good luck. You’ll be fine if you do your best. 😊


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