Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Classroom Environment Illustrates Priorities

I've been out of my classroom for a couple of weeks now because an intern is independent teaching there. It's always fun for me to have an opportunity to do other things around my school. This time, I've been observing in some primary grades because I'd like to teach younger kids next year.

I spent most of today in two different classrooms. Somehow, observing in these two rooms opened my eyes to changes in classroom set-up. Neither of these rooms has much "teacher space." Each teacher has a small table for themselves - a place for their computer and some papers to deal with, but nothing big. Each has a bookshelf for their things and a filing cabinet. But, it would take some looking around the room to recognize the teacher's place. The fact that these teachers rarely spend time at their tables also adds to this. The focus in these rooms is on the students, their work, and their learning.

Both of these classrooms also have tables rather than desks for the students. This suggests that the focus is on collaboration, discussion, and team learning. Added bonuses to tables is that they take up less space per student than desks and are easy to move around as needed.

As I continue observing for the next week or two, I'll be looking more closely at classroom arrangements. The set up of a classroom is an immediate, clear clue about the atmosphere and priorities of that class.


slouching mom said...

I've never thought about it so formally, but that's just the kind of classroom I like for my children -- student-centered and collaborative.

Blink said...

Your observations about space were quite keen. One of my favorite times at the beginning of the school year is sitting in the middle of the classroom pondering how the space is going to be used in my class (I teach 3rd). It changes yet is always centered on flexibility for activity and lots of movement for little guys. Your observations also made me think of Susan Graham's blog, aptly titled "A Place at the Table."