When I think of renewal I think about the time when I was a 2nd grade teacher in the Bronx and I would always look towards September with a great deal of optimism, excitement and hope, emotions tinged with a fair amount of last minute jitters and unfounded worries.
In June you “break down” your classroom to make sure that the school janitor and his staff can either clean the room, paint the walls if need be and polish the wood grain floors plus a host of other things they do while we’re away enjoying our summer reprieve.
Then September rolls in, signaling a new start with eager faces that will look upon you for guidance, knowledge, support and the occasional pat on the back (with a fair mixture of old-school discipline unfortunately thrown in). This new academic school year begins with the often lonely ritual of moving and arranging furniture, putting up posters, bulletin boards and chart papers. We post new rules on walls and make sure the technology (if any) is still functional and in place. We open up boxes upon boxes of books and textbooks both old and new and set them about in shelves, cubby holes and back into other boxes or milk crates. We open up closets and brace ourselves for what we’ll find inside – could be old forgotten detritus or a critter or two that might’ve met their demise on a sticky trap. We disinfect, clean and tidy up, making the classroom ours and awaiting the new scholars that will occupy it and make the classroom come alive for the months to come.
Then the cycle begins again as we break things down in June after our students have moved on to bigger and brighter things (3rd grade!).