Sunday, March 26, 2017

Classroom Environment - Slice of Life 3/26/17

I spent the evening trying to type up a grant proposal for my classroom. I say "trying" because Leia, our new puppy, thinks it is great fun to climb onto my lap, onto my laptop, and paw the keyboard. The entire process took double the time it should have, which seems about right. At any rate, I loved writing this proposal, which seems odd, I know. I loved it because it gave me time to reflect on the classroom I share with my students, to think about what works and what doesn't. To try and brainstorm what could make the space better.

To give you some perspective, this is the classroom I left last year when I left the fifth grade classroom. 

The best parts of the room were the large windows, high ceilings, and sense of history. The building was built in 1894. I loved sitting quietly with my students, thinking about who came before us in that room, who would come after. I loved that I sat in that classroom as a fifth grader myself. I loved that you could see my favorite classroom ever - my preschool Farm School from the south playground. It was a great place to teach. The downside to the room was that it was old. No air conditioning in fall and spring in Illinois is not fun. There were over forty stairs to get to the room, great for cardio, not great when you are running up and back multiple times a day. Part of me misses that room, part is glad to be somewhere else.

This is the room I moved into in June:

It is no exaggeration to tell you that I was in tears this day. I questioned what in the world I was doing. I wondered how to get any character into this classroom, to make it feel like a spot my students felt at home in. I am not a "decorating" teacher. I don't color coordinate, have cool boarders, or anything of that nature. I have nothing against that, my belief is that you do what works for you. I just felt sad sitting here, there was no history to work with. My son, Luke, figured it out and told me we needed to move in my books first. Smart kid. Once that happened, everything began to change. Here's a few photos of our classroom now:

I'm grateful to some local organizations, including our education foundation, for providing me some grant money last year to get more alternate seating in my room. I'm also grateful to my janitor, who didn't bat an eye when I asked him to get rid of my teacher's desk, several filing cabinets, and a slew of student desk/chair combos. Finally, I'm beyond thrilled that my husband not only supports my classroom, but built shelves for me this year when I realized the built in shelves in my old classroom wouldn't be coming with me. 

Classroom environment is something I'm constantly thinking about. I want every student to feel comfortable in our classroom. I want them to feel that it is truly our room, not mine. I ask them repeatedly what works for them and what doesn't. I hope that by seeking their input I end up with a classroom that works for all of us. 

What works for you in a classroom? Please share in the comments. I am always trying to reimagine what a classroom needs to be. My students help me a lot here, but I would love to learn from all of you too.

Slice of Life is a challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers