Monday, September 7, 2015

Setting Up the Classroom

So...we survived the first week! It has been amazing (& exhausting) starting fresh with a brand new class of little darlings after finishing our 2 year loop with our last group. We have done so much this week, and of course, a lot we didn't get to. A blog post will be coming soon about the first week bumps and celebrations.

This year was definitely new for Kate and I. For starters, we had to pack up everything prior to the end of the school year. And, when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING! Our entire classroom had to be boxed up and put into trailers behind our building. Why? You might ask...we are now the COOL teachers in an air conditioned building! HOORAY! 
The absolutely GINORMOUS crane putting one of the units on our roof!
That being said...while we now get to wear a sweater in September, this project came with many challenges. The number one challenge for us teachers being that we could NOT get into our school for the entire summer! I don't know about you, but I typically try to get in once a week throughout the summer to complete small tasks. I only stay for a few hours, but it helps me build up to the "big reveal" at meet and greet in August.

The summer was winding down, our anxiety was winding up, and we finally found out we could get into our classrooms on Monday, August 24th!!! <sigh of relief> Meet and Greet was pushed back to August 31st! That is not much time, people! This is was we walked into:
The double room PILE we walked into!
EVERYTHING we owned was piled on top of each other and on blue carts. Our giant pieces of furniture were tipped upside down, smooshed, and in the wrong half of the space. My anxiety flew through the roof when I walked in. I gasped. I called Kate (who was on her way). I panicked. Then, I took a deep breath and dug in.

The first few hours were just spent trying to unload the 8 blue carts full of boxes and books. Once those were out of the room, we had a little more space to work with. Kate and I stayed until they kicked us out (well after 9PM) that first night...and the second night....!

It took us all week (and a lot of sweat and sore muscles), but we finally had this:

Not only did we get everything set up, but we (of course), took on some extra projects (because...seriously...we didn't have ANYTHING else to do ;) We're sick...truly sick... :)

Project One: Repainting the dry-erase tables! These tables take a beating throughout the year. Here is a link to our original blog post from last year when we painted them for the first time! Since then, they have been scuffed, chipped, and "shadowed." A little sanding, primer, and new paint...and voila! We have beautifully white tables, ready for the writing! We even added a 4th table this year! I added 3 coats of the dry erase paint this year (vs. two last year) with the hope that they will hold up a little better. We'll see!! Regardless, it is a great way to cover up old, beat up tables! The kids LOVE them!
BEFORE...scuffed, chipped, and nasty! We sanded all the tables down first, then primed them with a latex primer.

AFTER! 4 beautiful, white, shiny tables that are ready for the writing!
Project Two: Spray painting ugly stools! We had about 8 of those old, art room stools at various parts of our room. They were different colors of metal. They had rust spots. They were, needless to say, UNATTRACTIVE! So, a few cans of spray paint later...and we have beautiful, shiny stools that really POP in our room! Here is a link to the brand we used! We chose a lime green and turquoise color (sorry, couldn't find the exact colors on Home Depot site). 
We did choose gloss colors (there is a matte finish, as well). Had we had more time, we would have sprayed them with a clear protective coating, as well. Maybe we still can sometime before a long break....we just ran out of time! It was such an inexpensive upgrade to our room! Our peers were so "wowed" by our simple change, that there are now MANY different colored stools floating around our school :)

Project Three: Overhaul of the classroom libraries! We have the gift of having a fiction and nonfiction library in our room (a pleasant side effect of combining two classroom libraries into one!) We love our books. Our kids love our books. BUT....they are HORRIBLE at putting them away! None of our labels matched either. So...we made some new labels that went with our chevron and chalkboard theme! We are in LOVE with how organized it all is now!
You can grab the book bin labels for FREE by clicking HERE!
We used different colors for different kinds of books--blue for chapter book series/authors, purple for genre sorted books (historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, etc.), red for picture books, and green for all nonfiction! We also put numbers in the corners of the labels. Each book is labeled with a matching number to help each book end up back in the right place! was A TON of work, but we made it just in time for "Meet & Greet"! Our families are amazing and our new little 4th graders (such a change from end of year 5th graders!) are so energetic and eager! 

We will update soon with the different team-building activities we have done to better get to know our kiddos. We have some fun ones to share!

Happy Teaching!



  1. Wow - you two never fail to inspire!

    1. Thanks, Beth! We appreciate your kind words!

  2. Don't forget we covered our hideously ugly white book shelves with darling chevron contact paper!!

    1. OH!! That's right! I didn't have any pictures of that. We'll have to take some and add them :) Kate's running "commentary" during that project was highly entertaining :) Needless to say, I doubt we'll be contact papering anything again any time soon ;)

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Mike! We're lucky to have you with us!

  4. You both are AMAZING!!! Love what you did to the room!! :)

  5. You both are AMAZING!! Love what you did to the room!! :)

  6. Valuable discussion , my students this month happened across to print pdf ! It's super efficient to try out and it's good ! I received notice that they might have a free trial ongoing