Back to school days

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I helped my daughter put her third grade classroom back together this week.

Well, I helped two days. She worked more days than that to get ready for the opening of school later this month.

It takes a lot of time and hard work to move desks in place, unpack boxes of heavy books, sort and arrange.

I unpacked sets of books the students use in reading classes, such as Helen Keller, The Borrowers, Where the Red Fern Grows, and Stone Fox.

I also had the fun parts of putting name tags on each desk. My daughter had made the colorful name tags on her computer. It was my job to tape them on the desks. Also I printed names on each of the students individual pencil boxes and composition books and notebooks and placed them on each desk also.

One of the students has a long long name so it took some maneuvering to get all the letters on her pencil box. I placed text books on each desk in alphabetical order.

Twenty six students this year. That's a lot for one teacher to teach and control.

Once I noted that it would be much simpler for me to write the names rather than print each one.

"Now think about it, Mom. These kids haven't had cursive writing. I'll be teaching that to them," my daughter said.

"Oh ," I said. "I didn't know that."

When I had finished, the desks looked so colorful and pretty with an assortment of yellow, red, blue and green notebooks.

It would be impressive at open house.

Then came the drudgery.

My daughter apologetically asked me to dust some small storage bins that hold games, puzzle maps, handheld viewers, and an assortment of odds and ends. There were maybe 16 dusty bins that held various teaching aides. All the contents needed dusting.

They hadn't been dusted in a million years. Well, okay, maybe a couple anyway.

We chatted, caught up on family news, while I dusted away. She was busy doing the grunge work of unloading large plastic bins and putting the contents where they needed to be. She shoved and lifted and moved stuff to various areas of the room. A big job for a tiny teacher.

She is the ladybug teacher at her school. Her entire room is decorated with ladybug paraphernalia. There are ladybug chimes hanging from the ceiling. Many are gifts from former students she has taught. Other ladybug items are displayed all over the room. The entrance door to her room is one large red and black ladybug. And the bulletin board on the wall outside her room is ladybug decorated too.

Ladybugs overwhelm the room but the students love it year after year.

That is her classroom theme. Other teachers in the building have other themes, such as frogs or butterflies.

I think it must be tough to be a teacher these days.

There are so many rules, guidelines, and requirements to be followed; so much paperwork.

I'm thinking it must not have been so hard in the olden days.

But then, it probably wasn't easy either. Children of different ages, levels and abilities were taught in the one-room classroom. Since school attendance wasn't compulsory, there were many students with sporadic attendance.

The three "R's dominated the curriculum. They were, of course, Reading, 'Riting and 'Rithmetic. The fourth "R' was Recitation at the recitation bench at the front of the classroom.

I guess now they would be called learning centers.

Do classrooms still have old fashioned spelling bees?

I can remember taking part in spelling bees when I was in grade school in Southeast Missouri.

The students would circle the classroom as each student tried to outspell the next one.

At ending only one speller would be left standing. That person would be declared the winner of the spelling bee.

Who would have dreamed that classrooms would have computers, overhead viewers, intercoms, fire alarms, modern cafeterias, and automatic bells to signal the start and ending of school days. And air conditioning too.

These are now the good old golden rule days.