This is my “making the best of it” face.
Nothing is more defeating than arriving to set up your classroom only to learn that you have to float! Floating (for those of you who don’t know) means that you do not have a classroom of your own. Instead you are forced to travel from one room to another throughout the day.
Personally, I would not want to float…not now…not ever. The first thing you should do is bring the Operations Assistant of your school whatever he or she enjoys in life. (Chocolate, flowers, candy, pencils, pens with flowers taped on, etc.) Ask him or her very politely if there is any way that you could have your own room. Are there any switches that could happen? Could he or she please look into it for you? While that is cooking, get your hands on the timetable and room allocations. Try to figure out the puzzle for yourself and try talking to the other teachers. Maybe there is an obvious switch that can be made. (You will be surprised to see how easy this might make things) You just have to ask…in many cases.
I have almost always ended up in the portables or the trailer park as some call it. I don’t mind this in the least because in a portable classroom I can do whatever I want. I can play the music loud, dance, and take the students outside easily. Last year, when I moved to a new school, I begged the administration to place me in whatever classroom they had available just so I didn’t have to float. I ended up in a half classroom (yes, you heard me). This room barely fit 33 desks and chairs. The heat and air-conditioner never worked. Everyone who entered would take a deep breath and say, “Oh, JL how are you dealing with this teeny tiny room?” I would smile and say, “It’s tiny but it’s mine all day long!”
Let’s say you do end up floating. Take a deep breath and consider these tips:
RULE #1 for floating is portability…you will have to gather your stuff fast if you expect to make it between classes.
* Go to Staples and buy a portable box with wheels. You do not want to be lifting and carrying your stuff everywhere. Also, a box makes you look trendy…kind of like a flight attendant. I used the handle to hang my coat and inside there was often a place for files. Equip your box with small tupperware containers. Each one can contain the things you like to use on a moment’s notice. (highlighters, sticky notes, markers, hand sanitizer, tissues, a mirror, chap stick)
* Get a few paper boxes with lids from the photocopy room (make sure they are empty because people get finicky about that), mark your name in big letters on the side, and place one in each room. These boxes can hold student work and portfolios (I’ll discuss portfolios in the future) also the box can hold your handouts for students who have missed a day.
Chart Paper and Sticky Notes ROCK!
* Try and designate a bulletin board for your use in each room. You simply must have some space to display student work, feedback and anchor charts. (Anchor charts will be discussed at a later date) Be strong on this point with other teachers sharing the space.
* Student helpers are a must for you. Set up definite routines for students so that each day you are not wasting too much time setting up. Assign certain duties for students that can rotate through the class each week. Chores such as Board Eraser, Agenda Writer, Attendance taker, Room Situater will be an asset.
* Remind students that they must leave the room as they found it. Do not be shocked if the other teachers will have the room in rows when you arrive with writing all over the board. I say, as long as you leave it the way you found it you can do anything you want with the desks while you have the space. So PAHlease change it around for groupings and dancing or whatever you need.
Clips turn chalkboards into bulletin boards
* Buy magnetic clips from Walmart. These clips will be great for instant work space in each room. Just have some prompts ready and BAMM they can be put up on the board. Have sticky notes so that students can respond below the prompts.
* Do NOT be bullied. Stand up for yourself when you are floating. If another teacher wants to sit in your room and mark while you teach…SAY NO. You should not feel like you have to share the room when it is yours. Do not be afraid to speak up for yourself. Teach people how to treat you.
* The greeting. Unfortunately, students will usually arrive before you do when you are floating. It is important that you get the helping team going so that you have a chance to connect with your students in the first 5 minutes of the classroom. Walk around, sit with the students, say good morning, try to ask about specific happenings. Those first five minutes are so important for setting the tone.
* Agenda-I mentioned the agenda before. It is important to keep yourself on track. Buy an egg timer if you need to be reminded of the time throughout your lessons. Remember, students are from a generation of switch! switch! switch! entertain me!…fast! now! change! So you must try to move it along or you might lose them and gain some behaviour problems.
* As a floater, you need to learn how to do more with less. (I’ll expand on this idea in a later blog)
In the end, being a floater requires you to be organized and calm! You are responsible for the energy you bring into the room. You will make or break this…but ahhh it does kind of stink that you have to float. Once when I was freaking out over having to float, a colleague of mine grabbed me by the cardigan and said sweetly, “Get ahold of yourself, Janet Lee. Just go in there and do it…” So I did and so shall you.
Let me know how it goes.
If this one was helpful, try Setting up A Vision Board.