When you have pretty strong convictions about something, they are not always understood or shared by others.
For me, one of my thoughts is that creating an environment of order and welcome is of high importance to my students’ frames of mind. With many of my students coming from existences that are not always orderly, I have felt that the ambiance created in the classroom can go a long way toward settling students, toward allowing students to focus and learn.
My colleagues and I are reading Charles Appelstein‘s No Such Thing As a Bad Kid, as part of a teachers’ book club this fall. I was struck by the importance of cleanliness, warmth, and color in a classroom toward creating a safe environment for my students. Appelstein specifically calls out attending to classroom design – as do the Sisters. It is something I have been dabbling in for the last 4 months and now, armed with both Appelstein’s and Gail and Joan’s thinking, I may be ready to do something drastic.
I hate clutter. There seems to be no end of it in an inclusion classroom, so the first thing I need to address is the collection of materials that do not appear to have a use. Countertops get covered with materials – surely there has got to be a neater way to store what materials are needed for a day or week. This is tricky when you are sharing your space with other adults – I don’t want to be bossy about it, but some of the materials I see tucked away has no real purpose in the everyday learning of my students.
The next step will be to somehow find a way to create a more welcoming space – adding curtains/valances (whatever the fire code allows), changing that God-awful turquoise to something more calming, putting away or weeding out materials that aren’t in use, creating spaces that are welcoming for children to read, write and think.
So really, I am not a nudge, but I am convinced that the changes I can make — and the clearing of clutter — will impact the learning environment in this classroom. And they must be done.