I saw a book today where two artistic ladies who go around to various places collecting “junk,” and then they turn it into fabulous looking items. As I look through many of the teaching blogs on the web I see the same thing going on. Teachers are taking cans, dollar finds, and other “junk” and turning it into useful items in their classroom. With the ever decreasing budgets of schools this has become an effective way of obtaining the items we need in the classroom. Just keep in mind the following story.
Every year at our school it is common to take any items that we don’t want to use and put them in the hallway for other teachers to salvage. Since several of our rooms open to the outside the teachers are sometimes forced to put their items outside under the awnings. A teammate of mine was walking down the outside walk and saw the perfect size file cabinet just waiting for a new home. She did not want to injure herself moving it so she put in a request for a custodial worker to deliver it. The next morning she arrived to find it in her room right in the corner where she wanted it. She went about her other preparations and by afternoon finally had the time to start filling her new file cabinet. She opened the top drawer and begin filling it, until she heard a hissing sound like air escaping. My teammate closed the drawer and listened carefully, but the sound disappeared. She opened the second drawer down on the file cabinet and heard another noise. It wasn’t a hiss, but a tumbling sort of sound. She could only imagine that a book had fallen down so she opened the bottom drawer to get to the bottom of this mystery.
Across the hall I was putting the final touches on one of my bulletin boards. My first thought when I heard the scream was that my teammate had somehow hurt herself. I ran across to her room just as she flew past me white as a ghost; her arms flailing as if all of hell was hot on her heals. I looked into the room and saw a raccoon begin to climb out of the bottom file cabinet drawer and run for his life. His peaceful slumber had been broken by a screaming human that was obviously dea- set on harming his peaceful existence. The raccoon managed to find the open back door and ran to find another place to sleep.
It took several hours of cajoling to convince my teammate that it was safe for her to reenter her class room. The maintenance workers were summoned to remove the file cabinet that had an open space in the back. I learned that everything free comes with a cost. Whether it is hours of work refinishing, cleaning, or ridding it of critters you have to work hard to make cast-offs useful.
So as you get back to school and start setting up your room, keep your eyes open to see what people have gotten rid of. You never know what will find when you least expect it.
(In the comments below, tell me of something wonderful or not so wonderful that you were able to salvage and turn into something useful.)