I’ve been spending a bit of time thinking about what the physical atmosphere and arrangement of the classroom projects. I am a packrat. There, I’ve said it. I saved egg cartons – must have had to toss about 50 of them when we moved 16 years ago – knowing in my teacher brain that I “might need these some day.” Well, someday never came.
As much as I would like to make the classroom into a homey place, I worry about the wisdom of bringing upholstered furnishings into a space and risk bedbugs or other interesting things. Fire inspectors tell us that only 50 percent of our wall surfaces (or is it 20?) can be covered – and nothing within X feet of a door. Sprucing up foggy plexiglass windows with a window valance is out of the question.
Even so, there are things I can take control of. I have a concern that a cluttered classroom translates into a chaotic message for students who are easily distracted. I understand that there have been rules created to ensure teachers have equitable access to equipment -our Union book spells out some of this. But an overhead and extra cart in the room – I don’t use this any longer as we recently obtained projection equipment – just takes up space.
Here are some of the things I am considering:
- Clear the countertops as much as possible. Use the surfaces for displaying special literature or projects.
- Using the “return” on my desk for the students’ mailbox center and for the newer computer. Where will all that “stuff” on the return go? I am rehabbing a 4-drawer file cabinet which I’d like to use to get stuff of the surface areas.
- Get rid of the rectangular reading table. I have a round reading table that can be used for conferences or listening or what-have-you. I want to conference right at the student’s desk or read in small groups in a rug area.
- Put the television in storage. The cart it sits on must take up 6 square feet.
- Throw, recycle, sell – get rid of any personal teaching material that doesn’t support the current framework or hasn’t been used in more than 2 years.
This year I will be sharing my space with at least one – possibly two – SpEd/ health paraprofessionals and some medical equipment for one of my new students. It is not only a nicety that the room becomes less cluttered, it is imperative. There may be decisions to be made about where adults put personal “stuff” and how much can or cannot be in the room. That will most likely not be met with enthusiasm.
Time to roll up sleeves and get cracking.