There has been a lot of talk lately on “the classroom space.” Seeing all these fantastic posts has me thinking about what my ideal classroom would look like, sound like and act like ( You can’t tell that I am a primary teacher :)). I would like to think that my classroom at the moment is very close but there is always that aim for perfection.
A lot has changed since I was in school. I can still remember most of my classrooms in rows with the teacher at the front of the classroom and us the students copying, practising or doing school work. I also can remember very little about these experiences. In fact the two strongest memories that I have of my school career was my grade three and four classrooms. I remember my grade three teacher because of the amazing stories that she would tell of her childhood. She was a fantastic story teller and really tried to connect with us as students. My fourth grade classroom memory is of a space unit. I remember this because I was basically told, “Jonathan, go as far as you want with this!” and I did.
In many ways it is sad that I only have two really great memories of school. Some one once asked me that if you went back in time 50 years would the classroom look any different? The sad reality is no it wouldn’t. However, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t.
I think back to even how my classroom has undergone some dramatic changes since I started teaching. I will start by saying that I have always felt my classroom was a place of inquiry. Since the beginning of teaching I have been an admirer of Piaget and Vygotsky. However, my classroom space continues to evolve into more of my ideal space.
Maybe I should have started with this but here is my vision. My ideal classroom is a classroom where all are contributors. Each student has a voice that is respected by peers and teachers. As a teacher I am not the wise sage that I grew up listening too but one who sets the conditions for the learning and asks questions along the way. My ideal space has places for all types of learners, not just particular sets of minds but places for all to feel comfortable in learning. This may mean quiet zones, maker spaces, work spaces (both collaboration and single desk spaces), and a carpet space. I want the classroom space to also be a positive space, where ALL are welcomed and appreciated.
I think when I first started teaching I knew kind of what I wanted but not really how to get there. My first classroom was a POD. It was amazing to see no walls and four classrooms. I think if I could I would go back to this type of open space. It was amazing to see such a big space for learning. However, I think that even though I wanted a classroom where I didn’t talk too much, I think I did. It was still a place of inquiry but it was my inquiry and not the students. As my career developed so did my ability to bring students inquiry ideas into real authentic learning.
Presently the my classroom is probably the closest it as ever been to my vision. My students are amazing thinkers and learners. I have amazing group collaborative spaces and singular spaces. My students don’t really see a table as their table spaces but places to work. They are on the floor, the carpet or at tables, where ever they seem to work best. At times because of the noise I even flow out to the hallway. At the same time my students feel like they can ask any question to anyone, as well as, answer questions without waiting for me to answer. Now this space did not happen over night. In fact I remember coming home in August ( I teach in a balance calendar) wondering if I would ever reach the ideal learning space. But with a lot of work both on my part and the students, I think we are well on our way of achieving it.
I would love to hear your ideas of what an ideal Classroom is?
How did you achieve it?
What is the most important part of your classroom?
Before I finish this post thought I would share some of my space with you.
My Classroom in Action: