Sunday, August 12, 2007

Destruction and Rebuilding

Pin It I am a sixth grade teacher and my school recently went through many renovations over the summer. Prior to this renovation, I had to completely disband my classroom and put everything into storage. The room was totally “gutted” as the ceiling was torn down along with the lights, and the carpet was ripped up.

Basically, I found myself no longer the teacher with a classroom, but instead a large, empty, concrete box. It was a lonely and sad feeling to walk into what was once a room in which I’d taught over 200 students over the past 7 years and have it now feel so barren and dead.

The summer passed somewhat quickly and still the box of emptiness remained. I’d go out to the school from time to time to see the advancement of the new sprinkler system as well as the other reformations—anxiously awaiting completion so I could restore my classroom back to how it was.

The weeks passed and still the room remained as it was. Eventually, I stopped going by the school because no progress was being made on the room whatsoever. It was about two weeks ago that I went out the school and still nothing had been done (with the exception of the sprinkler system) the room was still a ceiling less, lightless, carpet less, hapless, hopeless, loneliness pit of despair which I couldn’t stand being in or seeing.

This week I went to my classroom to discover that the lights and carpet had been installed…granted, there was still no ceiling or tile, and there was a huge mess left behind from the workers, but it was a start. As I began to repaper the walls and clean, as well as all of the other little things which made my classroom mine, I found myself feeling overwhelmed. There was simply too much to do and the room seemed so vast. I began to sort through boxes and felt surges of nostalgia upon seeing items from past school years, reminders of the students who’d entered the room and shared in educational experiences for nearly a year at a time.

I left the room today with still a long way to go to be prepared for Back to School Night on Thursday of this week; as I left I felt a certain overwhelmed feeling that anyone who is an educator can understand and who has most certainly felt at one time or another.

Yet, another feeling came to me as well…as I was putting my classroom back together, there was a thrill of newness…a new carpet, a ceiling (which will eventually get done…hopefully, before Back to School Night). As I looked around there was a exhilaration of the possibilities. What will the classroom be like this year? How will it be different? How will it be the same? Here I am given a chance to rebuild what I once had and change it into something more that I want. I also found that this is a prime time for dejunking…I am sure that you know what I am talking about when it comes to dejunking…all of that clutter that takes up our storage space and we keep simply because we aren’t quite ready to toss it…we may need it sometime in the future—granted, I haven’t used any of it in the past five years, but you can never know just when it might come in handy.

In working in my classroom, it is easy to relate this to life. How often have I felt like I had been completely gutted? How many times have I had to “rebuild” myself from scratch? Yes, there are always things to improve upon…things I need to make better and rid myself of…in other words…dejunking. Scrapping all of those things that hold me back from achieving—from making a real and positive difference in the lives of others—all of those things which keep me from being the best that I can be as an individual.

I am far from perfect. Even with the alterations I make to myself from week to week and day to day, I still have a long way to go. There are many things I still have yet to change and need to do, however, like my classroom, they do not all have to be done today. Do I need to have the room completely finished for Back to School Night right this very minute? No. Even on that night does everything have to be 100% complete the way I envision it? No, it doesn’t…I will be making changes throughout my entire life, and these changes, like those in my classroom, do not all have to be perfect and completed right now…

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