Earlier in the summer, I read / chatted Creating Cultures of Thinking, Ritchhart. This is a paragraph I had marked to revisit before school began.
Close your eyes and picture a classroom, any classroom – just not your own teaching space. A generic, made-for-television classroom will do. Take a visual walk around the room to notice what is there. Now open the door to the classroom and walk outside the room. Eyes closed. What greets you? Now, head to the library in your virtual tour and have a look around in your mind’s eye. What did you notice in your virtual tour of this imagined school? What was familiar? What was inviting? What left you cold?
I’m sure each person will answer each of those questions differently. I know a classroom is not what makes or breaks a teacher’s success. But I also know that I spend many, many hours each day and am glad to have a place I can sit and enjoy a calm, quite moment when needed.
I realize each person may have different preferences on the layout and style of their classrooms. But I prefer mine to be dynamic, ready to adjust at a moment’s notice. I want it to be a happy place – for my students, yes. But also for me – I believe I can gain energy for my students if I feel happy in the space. I want a space that speaks life, a space students feel welcome and are allowed to be creative.
Through the years, I’ve visited many different schools. Walking through the halls, the library, in the cafeteria…one can tell what’s valued and encouraged from a walk through those places. There’s an experience of energy – that trickles down to those who walk through those halls.
For me, it would be ideal to have evidence of learning, laughter, those things that matter most to us. If you could design your ideal school environment, what would one see, think, experience as they walked through the halls?