Last year I moved to a new classroom. The former digital music lab was an oddly shaped room. There were no windows. (There are still no windows, but I’ve added lamps to try and make it feel less like we are in a basement.) There is also a support pole in the the room. I was grateful when a small office and two former practice rooms next door were added to my new room. It really opened up the room. I had great plans last summer. Unfortunately, the carpet went down in the expanded room about two days before the opening of school. Teachers know that once the school year gets rolling some things just get left undone. The room was pretty. I loved the light blue color. While it came a long way, I never got fully settled. I never figured out exactly how I wanted my room set up. I shared the room with two other teachers and we never came together to find a set up that worked for all of us. Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to use my roommates as an excuse for why I didn’t my room together, but it did mean that I had less time in there to think about where I wanted things to go. I just never put in enough time to figure out what I wanted to accomplish with my use of space and sharing probably gave me an external excuse for why things didn’t look the way I had hoped. The desks were often in a jumble. It was a space full of potential, but it just never quite came together.
The lack of order became more than just a visual distraction, it was also having an impact on instruction.
Changes for 2015-2016
- New default set up is group of desks “tables.”
- The set up I chose does allow students to still have “up front” view for more traditional lecture.
- In the instances when students need to move for better visibility less time is lost having individuals adjust their desks as need than it was trying to go from a default of rows to a group set up.
- Ditch the teacher desk
- Yes, I know that this is the “in thing” right now, but it does seem to have a number of benefits.
- I still have a table with chairs for a conference table. It can function as a workspace for me during planning and also has the benefits of being a place where up to six students can sit or confer. The table has a smaller footprint than my own desk that really only served one person.
- My old desk didn’t have any included storage features, so I had already purchased a small set of drawer storage and have ample file cabinets.
- My room also has a number of storage units from Ikea, so the absence of a desk hasn’t created any problem for storage of “stuff.”
- Get rid of row of desktop computers, because of 1:1 program
- This was only possible because of the new 1:1 program for grade 9. The computer cart for Morgan Hall had 16 laptops. Even if all were charged all adequately charged and were connecting, we would still be five computers short. I was fortunate to have access to desktops to fill the gap. The laptop cart covers my junior and senior classes.
- The area where the desktops were set up now has four upholstered chairs that used to be in the library.
- easier group work set up
- comfortable environment. (Students will come in during Discovery and my planning periods when they are looking for a quiet place to study.)
- multiple different type of work locations within the room.
- conference table
- comfortable reading and group area
- flexible seating options
Things that still need attention:
- I didn’t spend enough time with the paper flow system. Actually, it is a bit less of an issue than the past because most of student work is turned in electronically. There still should be clearer spaces for students to:
- turn in work
- find make up work
- locate extra copies of review activities
- locate supplies needed for activities.