I have been getting in early, standing in the middle of the room and in all of the different corners making maps of what we might want to do with the setup of the space. I'm looking at the materials in the space and moving those materials around. Regardless of what I now, though, these children have been spending every day of the last 8 months in this room, so they know where things are and what they can find to use. Even if the materials are not exactly on the top of my list.
I have really had to reflect on materials in the classroom. In the past, I have had the "luxury" (if you can call it that) of putting certain things away or donating them to the Goodwill, tucking plastic toys in closets and taking out more natural materials. But here, the teaching dynamic is different. I'm the new girl. Is it polite to drag everything out? No. And the more time I spend around these materials, the more I notice that we can find some compromise. The baby dolls, the bottles, the Dora the Explorer books, that car rug - where is there room for the children's imaginations? We have to find balance.
That said, I have not found that balance with the environment yet. I put things away, and children take them out. But I'm also bringing in new things and giving them a range of open-ended choices by simply making things available to them. And I think it's going well.
On another note, I walk to and from work, and this is what I get to look at. Hello, Washington! Love, Oregon.