Monday, November 12, 2007

Organization in the Classroom: Making My List and Checking It Twice

Since I teach a high school Sunday School class and a preschool worship class each Sunday, I’ve learned it pays to be organized. Yesterday proved however, that organization is not always a guarantee of success!

This past week, I beat the record books on organization. I studied my lessons on Monday. I bought supplies, and prepared the craft project on Tuesday. I wrote out my lesson plans on Wednesday. On Thursday I gathered the supplies I had purchased for a snack activity in one bag, making sure I had extra plastic knives and napkins. Since we have a dog that has a nose for food and thinks she owns the couch, the couch was not a safe place to leave my bag of snacks for preschool worship. So I decided to put that bag in the car. That way, I wouldn’t forget it and the dog wouldn’t have a belly ache from OD’ing on graham crackers.

Sunday morning, I decided to do a double check on all my supplies. Fifteen minutes before we were to leave for the church, I went out to the car to make sure my snack bag was in the back seat where I had put it. I almost didn’t check, knowing I had put it there. Yet, I checked anyway because I’m so paranoid about forgetting anything. It wasn’t there! For the next twenty minutes, my husband, older daughter and I searched both cars, inside and out. We searched upstairs, downstairs, the sun porch, the carport, the cupboards, the closets. My snack bag was not to be found. We realized we had taken two kids to camp Friday evening and my husband must have rearranged things in the car. Knowing I was walking around the land mines of my minister husband’s already normally high Sunday morning stress level, I delicately tried to get him to reconstruct what he must have done with the contents of the car over the last few days. He couldn’t remember. He came close to swearing he had never seen such a bag. I insisted he wouldn’t have missed it. It had a huge package of napkins poking out the top. We agreed it could have migrated to the church although we didn’t know how. I wanted to check the trash cans but my husband said that would be overkill; no way would we have put it in the trash.

We got to the church. He checked his office. I checked the kitchen and classrooms. No snack bag. At this point, time had run out. I had to decide to ditch the snack activity. I would have to punt. I had more kids than usual in preschool worship, church ran longer than usual because of a congregational meeting and the snacks left in the room from the previous week were skimpy to say the least. I could have used that snack bag. Yet, in the scheme of things, it worked out and the children were none the wiser and a whole lot healthier for not having made the snack of my plans.

Sunday evening: Jack got a glint in his eye. “I want to look one last place for your snack bag,” he said. He came back from somewhere in the bowels of the church building triumphantly if not a bit sheepishly holding the missing bag. When I asked him where he had found it, he at first said, “I’m not telling!” Then the truth came out. He had brought his wastebasket from his office to empty in our garbage can at home, then returned the empty wastebasket to the car trunk. In his haste to make room for camp luggage, he had stashed my bag in his trash can, thinking both were going back to the church anyway. Absent mindedly, he had carried his trash can into his office and set it in the usual spot in a corner of his office. Yep, my snack bag did end up in the trash, just not in the trash can we expected!!

Organization can prevent many a disaster inside the classroom. But you can’t plan for every contingency. That’s why teachers need to develop a strong sense of flexibility. You have to be able to surf confidently over the unexpected complications. Besides, teaching sessions are just like weddings. If everything went smoothly, according to plan, it would be boring. Worse yet, you wouldn’t have any stories to tell.

No comments: