The floors have been vacuumed, and the tables cleaned. The art work and "All About Me" banners are hanging on the wall. Student binders with work samples are ready to be placed at each student's "home base" spot for parents to look through.
Our student-written Class Motto is front and center, and music is playing softly in the background. My sign-in sheet is printed, and my donation cards are ready, because it's...
Back To School Night.
Open House. Meet the Teacher. It goes by many names, but no matter what it's called, it's one of my favorite things about teaching.
I love meeting with the families of my students! After ten years in the same grade at the same school, many of them are old friends now, because I've taught their older children. If they're new friends? That's great, too. Meeting them helps me better understand my students, and gives me a chance to answer their questions.
For two hours, I stand and talk with parents, brothers, sisters, School Board members, Administration, and the many past students who come through my classroom.
I provide a fun game for the older students, so that I can focus on current students and their parents, but even so, I would guess that I have less than two or three minutes to speak with each family. The rest of their visit, they wander the room.
What do they see?
Hopefully, a comfortable, cheerful place in which their child will spend about seven hours a day. A place where their child can feel safe and be a part of a community. A place to grow and learn.
And then they're gone. They've moved on to another room, or gone home. They won't spend much time thinking about me, or the classroom. And that is as it should be. They have their own lives to live, after all.
They don't know how many hours I've spent writing grants at Donors Choose for that rug, this game, that white dry erase table, or those iPads.
They don't know about the hours and hours of research that have gone into best practices in math and literacy, growth mindset, student self-assessment, flexible seating, and the reasons that wobble stools and cushions really can help some students learn.
They don't know how many cans of spray paint my husband had to buy when he painted my old set of mismatched metal bookshelves this summer, or how many hours it took to label my thousands of books to fit our new reading program.
They don't know that my family stopped at twelve different Target stores on our summer vacation so that their children could have book boxes with special labels. They don't know that I've spent hundreds of dollars of my own money for Scholastic books and products on Teachers Pay Teachers to supplement our curriculum and provide their children with high quality, well researched, and engaging lessons that teach the Common Core State Standards.
They don't know that I got rid of my teacher desk because I needed more room to teach in small groups. Or that I went to school more than fifteen days this summer to work on my classroom. They don't know that I learned how to recover furniture just so I could take a chair that someone was throwing out and recycle it into my read-aloud chair.
They. Don't. Know.
And that's okay. I don't want them to know. As long as they know that their child is happy to come to school, and excited about learning, I'm happy.
Exhausted, but happy.
It's going to be an amazing year. I hope yours is, too!