You know those mornings when clothes you’ve worn dozens of times suddenly become uncomfortable?  I don’t mean those moments when realize you’ve had too many encounters with Girl Scout cookies lately but am instead referring to those unexpected scratchy tags, suddenly itchy sleeves, and pants that shrunk-to-be-too-short situations.

I realized this afternoon that I have been a little bit out-of-sorts lately, not because of my clothes, but instead because my classroom has not felt like it has fit quite right for a few weeks now.

My room is stocked with individual desks that can be entered from either side and can be re-arranged at will.  I tend to have them in groups and clusters that range from 2-6 with a few “islands” scattered here and there. But, I have that one class… I had tried everything in my classroom management bag of tricks, but we had to move into rows for a little while to “reset” ourselves, and the rest of my hours just had to come along for the ride.

My afternoon classes are granted quite a bit of latitude in moving and maneuvering to do whatever is necessary to make sure they have access to an electrical outlet or a partner for collaboration during work time. They know they don’t even have to ask anymore.  It’s just part of the culture of the room.  We work together. We are a team. We learn from one another. We’re here to do business.

Today, after the mini-lesson and structured exploration of some editorials we’re going to use as mentor texts, I looked around to see clusters of people squished together, chatting energetically about their topics and the successes and failures they were having in their research endeavors. That’s when it hit me– I miss this. They’ve obviously still got the comfort level to take care of themselves and reconfigure the environment to be more like our normal, but I miss it being an automatic part of who we are and what we do. I don’t like having to work at it– even with something as simple as moving furniture.

It is time to re-establish normal.