|image from icanread|
I finally made it into school today and saw to my amazement that all of my furniture had been moved back in, the floors were waxed, and now all of those boxes were ready to be unpacked. I couldn't help but be excited, and then I realized that I am hugely pregnant, and didn't even know if I could stand up for the time it would take me to set it up. So what is a girl to do? Try anyway. As I unpacked, arranged, and dreamt a little of the new year, I realized once again how much the way we set up our classroom reflects our educational philosophy. How much those seemingly innocent decisions of table placement, wall decorations and so on really reveal to the world. So these are the questions I asked myself
- To desk or not to desk? I was offered the granddaddy of desks this year; huge, sleek, brand new and I turned it down gladly. last year I decided to go deskless and I have never looked back. Instead I have a table for my computer and planner, one where I can meet with kids but it is tucked into the corner, somewhere where I don't get drawn behind, isolating myself from the kids.
- Tables or desks? I used to have small desks that we would scoot together to create pods, now I am fortunate enough to just have big tables for the kids to use. They move their chairs as they see fit to work with the lesson and I don't ask questions when they do. They just pick up their pencil can and go.
- What's on your walls? I used to have all of those awesome posters with the animals saying cute motivational things plastered all over my walls. That way wherever you looked you would be motivated to hang in there, work hard, and make great decisions. I took them down two years ago and now have three posters hanging; a world map to push pin our connections, a top ten of my room created by former students, and a calendar. Everything else we add as we go.
- Are you in the room? Those kids become part of my family so I have framed pictures in my room of newspaper articles from former years, all of the kids I have ever taught, two fantastic student art pieces that still choke me up and two quotes from the Little Prince. These mean more to me than motivational poster ever will and show the kids who I am, that is so important.
- Which way do your desks face? My former students told me they didn't want to face the Smartboard but rather the whiteboard because we used that much more. So this year that is exactly how they face. However, once again, the students can move about as they like so in all honesty I am not too bothered how they face. I don't need to be the center of attention so the desks don't need to face me so I can lecture.
- Other areas? Are there places for the students to work that doesn't include their desks? I used to have cushy bean bags and comfy chairs but lost them all to fire code. Now we have carpet squares, random chairs from my house, a big reading carpet, two stand up desks and lap desks that the students can use whenever they want. I don't ask questions, if they need them, they use them.
- Sign in and out. Some teachers ask students to sign out when they go to the bathroom etc. I don't, instead they put the pass on their desk so in case of a fire drill I know where they are.
- Can they get what they need? I used to hide all of my extra supplies and would get really upset if students dared ask for a pencil. Now, I have bins of stuff they may need which they can grab and they know to just ask if they need something that isn't out. My goodness, who hasn't ever needed an eraser?
- Where are those rules? Anyone who walks in will notice there is no class constitution, no rules, no what happens when... posters in our room. Expectations are discussed by the students and changed as needed. With only 20% of the walls up for use due to fire code I am not wasting that space on rules.
- Where's the tech? I am fortunate to have a 4-in-1 computer set up for students, but we also have some flip video cameras, headphones, microphones, and camera for them to use. Do you hide it or can students just use it? What is your level of trust with technology and putting it in the hands of students?