• Michelle Bickhaus

Maintaining a Grip in the Midst of a Pandemic - Part 3

In a world full of temporary things, you are a perpetual feeling.” -Sanober Khan


Let that sink in, friends. A perpetual feeling…


You are a perpetual feeling. Your students are a perpetual feeling. Those perpetual feelings are the reason we’re doing this work.


Our students’ worth cannot be defined. They are worth more than the districts’ budgets. They are worth more than our mediocre effort - not that I’ve known teachers who settled for mediocre. Every teacher I know invests heavily in their students. Our students are worth more than what we are actually able to give of ourselves. We’re worth more! So let’s be smart about our time. Let’s create great efficacy without depleting our resources.


This work we’re doing will be regenerative for our students and for us!


We’ve spent some time reflecting on our classroom spaces. We’ve identified a space to revamp. And we’ve photographed our identified space in order to take a more critical and subjective look at the space.


Now we’re getting out of our feelings and doing the more tedious work. This effort requires discipline. But the great news is that it’s a small reformation and it won’t involve hours and hours of lists.


Get your notebook ready! We’re off to accomplish something amazing!


Your task is to make lists of the following regarding your identified makeover space:

1. What items are essential and must remain?

Essential items are those that must stay because they are employed by you and/or your students almost daily. These are the “tools of the trade” such as books, laptops and like devices, paper, pens, pencils, etc. These are non-negotiable and must remain in the space. Really examine these items you deem essential. These items should be absolutely essential to you and your students.

2. What items do I want to remove?


I’ll admit to hanging on to things because they were once important to me. Over the years certain paraphernalia have become less relevant to me but are still on the scene because I have not taken an objective look at them in a long time. Maybe this is the day you will take your diploma out of the bifold cover and hang it on the wall. Perhaps you’ll get those books that haven’t been touched in five years and move them to a library shelf either in your room or on the shelves in the curriculum storage room. It’s these little things that we fail to even notice anymore that can make a big impact when tended.


3. What items need to be relocated within the classroom?

Would your classroom feel roomier and calmer if you grouped all of the books together? What if all of the writing materials were placed on a large flat surface and stowed in like-colored containers to give the area a perception of ease and organization? Cheap dollar store containers could be spray painted in a monochromatic palette to calm the eye.


4. What items can be stored out of sight in the classroom?

I have an area underneath my desk that it visible only to whomever is seated in my chair. I keep plastic storage drawers in this space to hide things that I need to use but that I don’t want visible in the classroom. I find that concealing these things makes the room feel lighter and cleaner yet I still have quick and easy access to those labels, notes, mindfulness props, papers for the week, etc. What kinds of “hiding places” are available to you? Do you have cabinets in your room where you can better organize your materials and keep out of sight?


5. Can some items be placed in deep storage elsewhere in the school?


Maybe you have seasonal decorations that need to go into tubs and could be situated in a communal storage closet. What else could go into storage elsewhere in the building? Maybe your school is bursting at the seams and there’s no place to go! But I’ve found spaces in our school that practically invited me to store my seldom-used supplies. Make sure you mark your storage containers with your name on the outside. I also enclose an inventory list so that I can quickly see what’s available in each tub. It also keeps things from walking away because would-be-borrowers know that you know what is there.


6. Can essential items be displayed more attractively?

Even those essential items might need a makeover. If those items are distracting and create a sense of chaos or contribute to a feeling of unease, then you need to address that. Just because it is necessary doesn’t give you license to keep it tumultuous.

7. Set a time frame for this task. Make sure it does not exceed 3 hours! Ideally it will take under 2 hours.

Schedule your date and time for this little refresher. Put it on your calendar and keep your date with yourself!


Get ready, Friends. You’re about to revel in one of the most fortifying projects of your pandemic-era teaching career.


Teachers, I love you, I believe in you, and I am cheering for you!

 © 2017 Teaching Troubled Hearts, Chaddock Quincy, IL