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Why does moving classrooms take me so long?

I’ve never liked moving, but because I’ve had 12 classrooms in my 13 years of teaching, it’s something I’ve had to do a lot.

That doesn’t mean that I’m good at it. It takes me forever.

This summer, my biggest problem is that I’ve spent too much time dealing with technology instead of first getting the room structure down. My classroom will have six Xubuntu desktops for students, my teacher desktop, and a tech cart that includes a netbook, document camera, and LCD projector.

Moving and setting up computers has taken a long time, especially because I wanted to update the Xubuntu machines to version 10.04. Weird things happened — like a monitor shut down randomly and Firefox didn’t always boot. While it’s fun to learn little Linux tidbits, it also drains time. Of course, I should be happy that my donated Pentium IIIs (with RAM of about 256 MB) are getting any use in the first place. They likely wouldn’t be if they ran Windows XP.

Now that I have a handle on the tech, it’s time to envision The Reading Zone. This year, I’m unveiling “The Million Word Challenge,” where my ninth graders will read 20-30 books of their choice in a hybrid reading workshop. That means that my classroom has to feel like a place to read. I’ve decided to put my classroom library next to the door so students can’t enter without the constant reminder. I’m also hoping to create a prominent and comfortable reading area in the back corner (a couch, a chair, a rug, a lamp) so students can curl up with a good book.

Unfortunately, my vision and my action aren’t yet in sync. There’s still so much to do, like figuring out the best place for my extra rubber bands. Though I’m usually a focused person, clutter makes me crazy and gets me off track quickly. Cleaning and putting stuff in order leaves me doubting my progress.

Then, coming up soon, there’s the scary part — decorating and making the room colorful. I once snootily derided this step as unnecessary in the high school classroom, but ninth graders definitely appreciate the effort. Instead of trying to deal with this drudgery alone, I’ll likely get some arty people to help me.

There’s still so much to do — what about a place for the student writing files? — but I’m excited and remain hopeful that things will get done, maybe, before the students arrive on Aug. 16. 

Please share your brilliant insights!