Where do you work best in order to be most productive, creative, and inspired? I’m a couch kind of girl, but I definitely have to be in a place that “feels” comfortable and I repeat that often to visitors in my classroom.
When I first started teaching I did “what I was supposed to do” – the desks were in rows in exact 90’ angles, (although I eventually became brave enough to slide them together!), the kids were all facing forward, “perfect” work hanging neatly on the board with the golden stars placed carefully in the corner, my desk was in the front of the room with neat stacks of papers & teaching manuals, (are you feeling that 1970’s school room yet? Yeah, that…) curriculum binders placed carefully on the bookshelf at arm’s reach, kids only spoke when called on & could provide the answer to the question asked, etc. I didn’t dare move out of the norm all those years ago – boy have things changed!!!
I’ve thought a LOT about where I work best and have brought that into my classroom – if I need a comfortable place, then my kiddos sure do too! It began with my great grandfather’s rocking chair and has evolved into desks into teams which were then exchanged for tables/home bases, creating a Book Nook which has evolved into a living room, hubby and strapping teenage son lugging in an antique claw foot bathtub and filling it with lots of pillows to make a comfy reading place, Gram’s table was repainted and brought in for an extra work space, completely scrapping my desk and instead creating a “home base” for me too, ditching half of my chairs to be replaced by therapy balls, I added a coffee table & stood back to watch how quickly the kids were drawn to it, and have had kids bring non-skid bath mats to use on the floor so they can spread out to work in teams on a comfy spot. I recently went to a Country Living fair and was inspired by an artist to schlep off to a garage sale and purchase a “lovely” overstuffed chair – I stripped the delightful green fabric and reupholstered it to add to our living room this year (before and after pics below!). I took down all of the things teachers are “supposed to” have hanging (and instead created student generated/hands on anchor charts that are used in journals) replacing them with authentic student work and art – NOT A+ work… but work from ALL students, to show them how important they ALL are to our team and how much I value what they do.
Please, make no mistake these things were NOT added without LOTS of thought & consideration and meaningful placement. I didn’t want a cutesy room with lots of tchotchkes splotched all over the room. From day one we work to establish the culture of our room – it’s NOT about me, but about the buy in from and the belief & trust in my students. I expect a LOT from my kids; we work hard from first bell to the last, I have very high expectations and with that expect rigorous learning. It’s so much fun to watch people walk by my room only to back up and do a double take. It doesn’t “look” like the typical room, but you will NEVER come into my room and not have a child tell you what they’re doing AND why they’re doing it – they have come to know the benefits of each day walking down that long hallway, turning the door handle, and being welcomed home.
So? Where do you work best? What one part of that place can you bring into your classroom?