The Classroom

I’m there before they arrive.

Sign in, slip ID pass over my head,

walk down the twisting, yellow hall.

There by the office, a handful of little ones wait:

Before Care, they call it.

They’re here early, but I walk across the open center

of the circular building,

through third grade.

Pull the door open into second grade,

and I’m there first.

With classrooms separated with wall dividers

and open halls connecting each room,

noise travels everywhere in this building.

But when it’s before 8am,

and elementary school has not yet begun,

and even the high school is just beginning to buzz:

it’s quiet then.

It’s calm, peaceful, cheery inside the classroom.

The far wall has doors, short hallways, on each end.

One door leads outside, to the playground, to recess.

Other doors lead next door: to first grade, to fifth grade.

There’s a hallway next to the fifth grade door,

four yards of shelves, cubbies, that second grade shares with third.

Every morning, twenty third graders pass through second grade,

leave their bookbags on hooks meant just for that,

walk back across the classroom, out the door.

Later, second grade, first grade, pass through third grade on our way back from lunch.

We walk through kindergarten to get to lunch, too,

but the littlest ones, the kinders, are already at lunch by then, anyway.

Between the doors and the halls, there are cabinets.

Pale mint green and silver stripes coat the cabinets.

Outside, they are attractive, soothing, somehow.

Inside, they are full of activities, tools, games, supplies.

Full, and so very organized. Labels. Boxes. Bins.

Everything has a place to go, everything belongs.

Between door and cabinet, there’s a classroom.

Classroom just as neat, organized, peaceful, as the cabinet.

Rug for reading, hemmed in by a couch, an armchair.

Reading corner, bookshelves lined with boxes of labeled books:

American Girl books. Science books. Story books. Good books, all.

There are desks, too, of course.

Small ones, each with its own blue chair.

Stand in the front, look out at the desks, and you can see a name painted on each one.

Blue letters, soft, bright pastel.

Desk, name, individual.

There’s a board, of course. Lined in blue, neatly written posters lined across it.

A computer corner, a work table, a teacher’s desk.

More, too.

You could look, learn, watch for awhile

in that bright, calm, deep, organized classroom, and there would still be more to see,

more to learn.

And in the morning, I’m there before they are,

and I wander sometimes, around the room.

Look, study, observe.

Try to remember what it looks like,

what was used,

how she did it.

Because it’s a wonderful classroom

and teaching is about learning.

And I’m learning quite a bit, here in second grade,

even from the classroom.

~Natalia

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