It’s the first day we’ve been allowed to reenter the school after a major renovation. It’s a disaster. Nothing we carefully packed up and labeled before summer break has been returned to the rooms they once belonged and school starts in ONE day! Yup! You heard that right.
What a nightmare! But fortunately we worked with the most amazing staff on the planet and came up with a solution to bring everyone’s anxiety level down to a manageable level. We hosted a walking set-up bus.
Here’s what we did.
Each teacher (who by the way had an EMPTY classroom) made a list of three things they absolutely wanted done in his/her classroom before school started. These could be things like: all the desks in the classroom, all the reading resources on a shelf, all of the bulletin boards covered with paper and borders, set up the teacher desk and printer, get the technology working (you get the idea-big tasks-not little things like making name tags).
If you agreed to have people help, you agreed to help others. Fourteen of our fifteen teachers opted in (the other one was very pregnant and opted to have her husband and brother do her work for her).
Each teacher was allotted 30 minutes. The role of the teacher in their classroom was to point where things went and make quick decisions about where items should be found and placed. All of the rest of the teachers did it. After a teacher’s class was set-up they had to continue on the walking set-up bus (which I’ll admit was really difficult because there was still so much to do in my classroom).
The Pay Off
Now it might sound crazy-seven hours of work (and we moved so much furniture) but most teachers didn’t actually need the whole thirty minutes. When you’ve got fourteen people moving desks, tables, shelves and boxes, it’s quick. In about four hours every teacher had all their furniture and all their boxes were back in classrooms. That left the rest of the day to get ready. (Shout out to our lovely principal who did not make us do icebreakers and professional development that day.) Books were unpacked and placed on shelves, materials were printed, desks were straightened and decorations were put up.
The Unexpected Benefit
Our first day with students was not a Pinterest perfect classroom (side note-it rarely is and that’s ok), but the students didn’t notice or care and our staff felt so proud that we’d worked together. It set the tone for the whole year.
So, you might not have a completely empty school (with brand new floors and paint that looks wonderful) but you can still host a similar style walking bus. Get those bulletin boards designers, photocopiers, decorators and tech set-up helpers around the school together to get it all done quickly and efficiently. And don’t forget about those common spaces like the band or music room, drama room, library, makerspace and learning commons. They need your love and attention too!
Have you tried this? Did it work for you? Let us know what other strategies you’ve tried for a quick set-up in the comments below