Friday, August 14, 2015

Setting Up My Classroom: My Teacher Space

Good teachers, by nature, are good planners. Being able to effectively plan ahead is a part of the job description. I always say "plan now or pay later" - one aspect of planning may not have been covered during teacher preparation. . .

Space planning.

I accompanied our oldest son as he set up his first classroom. A narrow classroom with too many desks and little room in which to maneuver. He teaches science like I did at one time. Finding his "teacher space" was a challenge. But since it was his first classroom, the fact that he even had a desk was exciting to him.

What we inherit as teachers is usually odd shaped rooms, discarded furniture, and not enough chairs. How do we make magic in such settings?

It took three years before I had my first classroom to myself. I shared a room with another special education teacher initially - well, "room" is a generous term. It was a portable classroom with several 4 foot high bookcases separating us and our respective students. My husband, my boyfriend at the time, is a space planner and he enthusiastically helped me arrange my space in a way that worked for us. I had very little in the way of furniture, and even less in the way of resources, so the challenge was to find a way to make this an inviting, yet functional, space for myself and my students.

Vicki's first classroom - circa 1985

It was a pretty drab existence those first couple of years. I was embarrassed by the paucity of my surroundings. I didn't want parents to visit because I didn't want them to see the tossed-to-the-curb desks and flea market find bookcases that littered the yellowed linoleum floor of the 14' x 40' trailer we called our classroom. But I found ways to make this space work. I personalized it in ways that made my students feel welcome and made my own work space - my desk area - a place that reminded me why I became a teacher in the first place.

You will need a space that inspires you, motivates you, and reminds you of your calling. Judy Deeley, a veteran teacher in Florida, who continues to find new ways to make a difference, organized her "teacher space" in a way that shows her passion for teaching. We know who she is and what makes her a great teacher by her space.

Whether your classroom is an awkward collection of mismatched hand-me-downs, or a brand new classroom in a state of the art school, personalize your teacher space as a reminder to yourself and your students of who you are and how much you care. Your students will be inspired by you!