Well, it is August, I have had my first “back to school dream” (read nightmare) and I find myself thinking more and more about my classroom. After teaching for more than a decade most of the logistics are figured out. I have my routines, my go to first day activities and décor all under control. When I think back to what I pictured my classroom to be in college and then compare it to my current reality, I feel like I am getting closer and closer to that idealistic picture. I am an Early Childhood teacher at my core. I love watching children discover learning and earned my degree right in the middle of the constructivist, whole child push in Early Childhood Education. My vision for my ideal room is an open space, where children buzz about working and learning together. Over the years, I have made many steps to make that vision my reality. As I grow in in my experience I have been able to take those steps that in the beginning of my career seemed so far away.
Environment: Gone are my days of over the top bulletin boards-complete with twinkle lights and 3-D dragons popping off the wall! I still work to make the room visually pleasing, but have come to understand the importance of having student’s learning anchored to the items in my room. My walls begin as blank frames, ready to be filled with student’s work and other evidence of our learning.
Spring of last year, my colleagues and I took the ginormous step of not having assigned seats. Allowing first graders choose where to work and letting them to move around throughout the day was a big change and release of control. We made work stations: standing tables, sitting tables, group spaces, individual spaces and spaces for the students to work while lying on the floor, a student could even sit at the teacher’s desk (I don’t have time to sit there anyway). I loved it, they loved it! It felt calm and relaxed. The students were learning to verbalize what they needed to be successful in their work habits and were more productive than ever. When we made the jump last year, I knew my students. It was safe; I knew what lessons would need to be taught to make it successful for everyone. Beginning the year without assigned seats is scary, but I am not turning back. It will bit bumpy at first, as I get to know a whole new class of children. I know I will have to get past my control issues, but I have seen what it can be and I am hooked.