I wore my mask on my face and a button with my face on it. Upon admittance to the building and my classroom, I found tables and desks set up spaced six feet apart with all of the other furniture pushed against the walls and stacked upon cabinetry. After early morning PD, I was sent back to the room (will I be teaching here in a month, or stationed elsewhere as a remote learning instructor? Who knows.), ate lunch, and then started my assignment: determine what remaining furniture, if any, could still be used, and remove all of my own personal belongings and all cloth items from the room. Furniture to be stored had to be labeled and put in a central location within the classroom so it wouldn't clog up the hallway.
I might have been able to maintain some semblance of stoicism for the remainder of the afternoon, but a dear friend walked into my room, and it was all I could do to not sob. After drying some tears (crying and having one's nose run behind a mask is NOT an ideal situation), I pushed through to problem-solving mode: what do I need to keep? What must I send to storage? What must I take home? How can I provide visual cues to students (who I may or may not have in-person) so they know where to keep their very moveable individual desks (one solution would be Sit Spots on the floor, one marking the upper right desk leg and the other marking the lower-left desk leg) as we attempt to maintain social distancing requirements?
But being the first day of my twenty-fifth year of teaching, I recognized that I am being required to do exactly what I have fought doing for my entire career: I must work against my students' very nature, coach and praise them against how they learn best, and constantly redirect them from their very selves. And if I manage to do it "successfully," I know that there are other teachers and possibly even administrators who would find the arrangement of kindergarten students sitting face-forward in straight rows for seven hours each day at desks ideal, even desirable post-pandemic. I'm experiencing a pedagogical crisis.
Here is the furniture to be removed:
Goodbye art cart. Goodbye alphabet rug.
Goodbye Dramatic Play/"House" Center.
Goodbye lightbox, Lego table, and painting easel.
Goodbye reading table. Goodbye Play-Doh table, and math table, and writing center table.
Goodbye discovery table with the roadway on one side of the flippable topper and a farm scene on the other.
The wooden barn and dollhouse will sit high atop the upper cabinetry, stored, but not out of sight. Students will wonder why they are there, and why they are out of reach. If I'm not reassigned, my class set of scoop seats will join the barn and dollhouse. So will whatever extras might fit that we won't be allowed to use... but students will see them. And wonder.
As for the personal belongings that I have to bring home, here's the first load:
Kindergarten will have no resting mats.
No storytime chair. No mini couch or chairs.
No shopping cart. No puppets, no apple basket tree to hold them.
No stuffed animals to "buddy read" to.
No balance beam. No stepping stones. No sensory bin.
No side table for plants or book displays.
No rolling cart for lunch box and snack bag collection.
Kindergarten not being kindergarten is supposed to pass as a solution this year, but a developmentally inappropriate learning environment will never be the correct answer.
I am grieving.