Monday, July 16, 2012

What Did I Get Myself Into?

Do you ever find yourself asking this question after you volunteer to do something?  I do. A lot.  Let me explain.

This was my school building three years ago just before the first day of school.  It was closed the previous year for renovations. All students and staff were placed in a temporary building for that year.  This would be the first year back in the newly renovated and beautiful building. It was also the 95th Anniversary of the school.

F.A. March Elementary School
I am the teacher who has her entire room set up and ready to go for the first day of school the very first day we are allowed back into our classrooms.  I'll be the first one there and the last one to leave just to get it ready in that one day.  If your patient, you will spread out the work over the week.  Not me. I'm not patient.  I then spend the rest of the week getting ready for Open House and the first month of school.  Nope, I'm not super teacher.  I'm just ridiculous.

Since I was already finished setting up my room and just putting the finishing touches on it, when my principal asked for a volunteer to help her prepare some special things for the first day of school, I eagerly jumped at the chance.  I mean, it was only my second year in the building and I was trying to make a good impression. But, who am I kidding?  I would have volunteered even if my room was filled with boxes and looked like it was not even close to being ready for the students in a week.

Challenge #1: My principal never specified what she needed done.....just that it was something special.  This was the first clue I should have asked more questions before signing up.

After I signed up, I was then told my volunteer assignment.  It was to create a banner to hang outside of the school on the first day of school that said March School Extreme Renovations. Ever see the show Extreme Home Renovations?  It was playing off of that show.  All the students would pull up in their buses and see this banner.  The principal would cut the banner, and we would all file into our new home for the next 180 days.

Challenge #2: The banner was to be the entire length of the school.  Do you see how long our school is?  It's an entire neighborhood block!  Here is where I ask myself the question.  What did I get myself into?

So, she hands me the paint and brushes, leads me to the paper, and tells me good luck.

Challenge #3: No way am I ever going to find a space large enough to lay out this banner and paint on it.  It's also a BRAND NEW building.  I will not be the first person to get paint on the floor.  Leave that to the students.

Outside I go with my large roll of paper (its heavy), paintbrushes, and paint.

Challenge #4: It's August.  I'm in Easton, PA.  If you know anything about Pennsylvania summers....it's hot and humid!  I'm on the blacktop in the beating sun.  It's the only place large enough to stretch out the roll of paper.  I'm sweating.  A lot.

I again, ask myself the question.  What did I get myself into?  I decide to separate the banner into three different sections.  One section will say March School.  The second banner will say Extreme.  The third will say Renovation.

Challenge #5: It's breezy. Now while this might be a good thing since I'm in the beating sun, it's not so great when I am trying to lay out huge lengths of banner paper.  Yup, you guessed it.  It starts to blow around.  But of course, not before I start painting.  I paint the "M" in March and the entire thing blows around and there is gravel stuck in the paint on my "M".  Maybe nobody will notice.

Then it happens.  I am about to ask myself that question again, when Mrs. M comes to save me!  She helps me hold the banner down while I paint.  I don't know that I ever formally thanked Mrs. M.  But I should.  The banner could have been an entire mess of paint mixed with chunks of gravel.  You know those projects that first graders do for symmetry where they paint one side of a paper, fold it in half and magically their design is on the other side.  That would have been my banner but with the wonderful texture of gravel.  Maybe I would say that I was trying to take a multi-sensory approach.

The end result? (I had to piece together three pictures for you to get the idea.)


Not my best work, but I have to say it all started with a pretty good idea.  Hanging the banners?  Well that's a whole other blog entry.

The students were extremely excited as our principal cut through the banner and they were able to enter.  It made a statement!  I would suggest that this could be done at your school.  You don't need a new building or a 95th anniversary to make students excited about entering through the doors on the first day of school.

What did I learn through this experience?  I have never regretted volunteering for something that puts a smile on the faces of students even if I find myself asking, "What did I get myself into?"