I am a Primary guide returning for my second year at this Montessori school. My classroom will not be the same as last year because of school construction. While the classroom is simply moving across the hall, the environment will be entirely different. Not only will this room have a bigger, more interesting footprint, it will have more windows. All of this space will have to be set up in less than a week. This will occur, in less than a week, while still also attending meetings and professional development. This fall will be different. How will this work? I have never set up a Montessori classroom environment in such a short amount of time. Here is my plan.
Refer To My Montessori Albums I find that at least skimming my albums is grounding as I move into the new school year. I will commit to rereading at least one Montessori book, but not yet. This practice helps to focus my work with the children. School requirements and their to-do lists can easily pull me off task and drain my energy. I have learned that refreshing my memory and passion is a good investment.
Breathe Deeply, Stay Calm, Practice Mindfulness Nobody works efficiently when overly stressed or anxious. It seems counter-intuitive, but my plan is to continue to take care of my mind and spirit by getting fresh air, stretching, meditating, breathing a lot more and getting good sleep. Staying calm through these few short days, will mean I can more effectively get the work done and have a beautiful and attractive environment set up in the end. I will also give myself permission to pace myself and take short breaks. We know how important rest is for the children in their cycle of activity, I think it also serves us well.
Do What I Can At Home I am counting my blessings. One of those blessings is living in a time when I can access some of the administrative stuff from home. I have already built this year’s class list, set up my Montessori record keeping system and emailed all the families in my class. I can also take care of some of my washcloths and towels and begin to do a little shopping for the new year knowing the basic items I will need.
Map, Picture and Delegate I have now received the rough dimensions of my new room space. I am thrilled to be in this space because of its size and many windows. However, we need a plan. It will be challenging to know ahead of time the best lay-out of the room, but I will rough-out a floor plan based on what I know of my past shelves and what spaces need to be available in the room. Last spring I took pictures of each shelf. So, I will get those printed in triplicate and use them to label shelves and their matching boxes. Delegating the shelf preparation will be much easier with photos to follow.
Ask for Help We all get by with a little help from our friends. I am calling on one of my close Montessori friends to help me through this tight set up. She is retired from full-time teaching and more than willing to lend a helping hand with her flexible schedule. Challenging situations are always more manageable with a trusted friend at our side. Hopefully, she will be able to provide me with a little comic relief as well.
Make Lists and Organize Boxes Fortunately, I knew what was happening at the end of last school year. It was also fortunate that the school hired movers to help with the boxes and furniture. The strategically packed and labeled boxes from last year will be easy to place with the pictures already on the shelf. I made to-do lists and materials lists and other general lists last spring when I knew what I would need to remember at this time of year. All of those lists are at my fingertips for reference.
Think of the Children First After the basic layout of the classroom is in place and the basic materials are on the shelves, I will focus my time in the Practical Life and Sensorial Areas. These are the two most important areas of the Montessori classroom for the beginning of the year. I will put my time in to make sure all is beautiful and in good repair. Last year I was able to order a lot of new materials for the Math and Sensorial areas. I find the Math Area to be the “easiest” area of the room to prepare, so because I have to choose, it won’t take as much of my time to set up. The early language presentations including the materials for sound games and the Sandpaper letters will also need to be in top notch shape for the first day of school.
Prioritize the Rest and Save Some for Later My main priority is being set for that first “hour” of school when children come in for an open house. These are new children to the classroom. They get to see the environment for the first time. I want them to walk into a warm, beautiful and inviting space. Behind the closed closet and cabinet door may be complete disarray and chaos but not in the main environment. I can work on getting the “behind the scenes” ready in the coming weeks.
Remember, I have less than a week. This is my plan. What do you think? I would love to hear what your plan is this year.