Classrooms are catnip for teachers.
There it is. I said it.
II meant it too:)
You can visualise it for better understanding, but at some point, whether you're a teacher or not, you are bound to see the connection.
Because they are tantalising and promising and offer a new opening. Who does not like that. We all do.
II for one, get a tingly, pre-Christmas, exciting sensation around August, each year. We all get new classrooms, new spaces, new learning environments of new beginnings full of endless possibilities.
It's hard to admit, but I like reality TV. (yes, I do know it's scripted). I do not have the time to watch TV much, but if I catch some reruns over the summer, I can never peel my eyes of the extreme makeover type of shows. You can probably recall some.
Imagine this scenario: "A shabby house, grey walls, unappealing furniture and set up. A crew of people takes a week of their time to turn things around and revamp the place into an enchanting space, with carefully chosen colours and details."
Well, this is what I like to imagine, I do with my classrooms. I'm a change agent and it all starts with....
A budget - some will say.
But who has not done a classroom on a dime, or ten, because all teachers' roads lead to a "dollar store", or in my case to Miniso and Daiso (Japanese counterparts of a dollar store) where you can get anything and everything for 10 Chinese Yuan (1,5USD).
Brown packing paper, string, laundry pegs, whiteboards, markers, magnets, magnetic tape, blue tack, pillows, wicker baskets, etc. All very simple and low-cost ingredients of a recipe that is a great classroom.
Before your first shopping adventure or visit to the school's resource room, do remember, less is more. I personally, binge shop on stationery items and own paper tape and sticky notes in all colours of the rainbow and all possible shapes and patterns...don't even ask me about paper clips and pegs...
To know what you want, you need a sense of purpose for your space.
It helps to define our relationship with the classroom.
To some, classrooms are rented spaces to come and go and assigned seating. To others, they are shared environments of multicultural and multilingual communities and commitment. To me, they are the FIRST teacher, as all environment is.
Wasn't that the THIRD teacher, some of you might say...
Well, in Reggio Emilia approach that is certainly true, but if you've taught at least one day in your life, you will appreciate a classroom that creates learning opportunities, engagements and incentives for the students in stead of being an empty stage for the teacher in the role of his/her life - an entertainer, a DJ, a clown, a presenter, and many more. I bet that after a day of 50 faces and roles you wish you could sometimes take backstage and just observe what is happening while the learners continue busy with their engagements, self-managing themselves in a space that is open to student ownership and student-driven learning and exploration.
So if the room is the first teacher who are we then?
Well, it's a humbling experience, as we are the teacher's aide. We are the assistant that keeps a constant supply of big sheet paper and pencils and makes sure all students are accounted for. We are a researcher carefully observing this new environment and its occupants and trying to make sense of it all.
So as we are settling into classroom environments now, why not let ourselves think outside of the box this year.
Let's hack our classroom for inquiry, shall we?