Ready or Not

Students Arrive Next Week

It's one week until students come back into my high school science lab and time to get it -- and me -- ready for them.  The room looks exactly as it was left last year, except for the shiny, polished floors. There is a glass wall cabinet standing next to a note that says "attach cabinet here". There is a note on the electric box that says "outlets needed". Fluorescence lights are uncovered, the sinks are clogged, as are the gas jets, and one chalkboard still has doodles on it. Sigh. I was hopeful when I left, but it was not meant to be.
My room is over 50 years old and, with the exception of an add-on eyewash station, an oddly placed emergency shower, and the IWB projector (yay!), it has not been upgraded in all that time. Two summers ago I came in and painted the walls and ceiling, which somewhat helped it's appearance, but it is a sorry looking facility for this suburban community.  There is not much I can do to make improvements in its appearance, but I will be putting up posters and pictures and inspirational quotes.

This year I will be teaching chemistry, oceanography, marine biology, and physical science. That means materials for the disciplines of chemistry, physics, earth science, biology, and some astronomy and meterorology. In this little room. I placed the aquariums (as yet unfilled - I need to purchase filters out of pocket) in the front of the room, away from the lab stations. I placed the IWB board on the "side" of the room and turned the tables to face that way, rather than to the front of the room which has a fixed teacher desk and demonstration table. I did this because I wanted the focus to be on student learning, not teacher lecturing. When they faced me, because of the cramped space, I was trapped behind the desk and had trouble walking around the room to help. This arrangement is my experiment for moving to a more student-centered environment. I also bought a wireless mouse that I can hand off to students to give them further control.

My teaching style is very hands-on and uses quite a bit of materials. Trying to house, organize, find, and manage these materials can be a logistical nightmare, especially in my small room. There are cabinets under the sinks which I plan on utilizing more, having found a key to lock them, but I may need a map and a spreadsheet to track what is where.

I also expect my students to use 21st century tools for their work, submitting papers electronically, blogging, and tweeting. I'm working out guidelines for my classroom for texting and other social media. All of this will need to be in electronic form.

So those were my thoughts for today. I did not get much room prep accomplished, more of a planning step.

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