I place a great deal of value on classroom environment. I’m always looking for a way to keep my classroom fresh and place an emphasis on student comfort and usability. It’s taken me years and countless grants from Donors Choose to build my collection of furniture, shelves, and books. (I will also admit that I have spent more than I should have at IKEA.)
Sometimes I may go overboard. But the truth is sometimes you just need to shake things up, clean under the couch, tear down the cobwebs, reorganize the junk drawer, freshen things up.
I’ve noticed a pattern where a week or so before I have to finish my report cards I start moving furniture. Yes that’s right, I ignore the stack of backlogged grading and I move furniture. I know, it doesn’t make sense. But it’s how I work, and Thursday was one of those days.
It started with a desk. “I wonder what would happen if I turned this group of desks 90-degrees?” The floodgates opened. Once the desks were turned then a shelf needed to get moved. Then another. When the students came in I was in a flurry. I stopped my furniture moving to teach but, a few hours later when they went to gym a few of them asked if they could stay behind and help me. We discussed options, tried things out, evaluated ideas. I asked them what they wanted. They said it felt cramped. They were right, it’s mid year, they are getting bigger and they needed more space. We moved some more furniture, deciding that the whole back half of the room needed to be dedicated to the library and carpet space. It meant that I had to use less space for myself, and I’m okay with that. After a few more adjustments, I ended up switching out a table for one I had in the hallway. Magic. At the end of the day the students asked if they could have a few minutes to clean out their desks, having caught my cleaning bug.
When I went home Thursday my back was sore. I had a bag of papers to do over the weekend. But I felt a strong sense of satisfaction and so did the students who had helped me. The best part was the experience we had together in making our classroom a place that works for everyone, not just me.
Here are some classroom pictures. (Just for you Tara!) We have fairly large classrooms because we’re in an old building. On the other side of the room is 28 desks in groups of 4 or 6.