Classroom Environment

I have realized in my second year of teaching just how important the physical classroom space is to teaching. With modern curriculum and the 1-1 initiative at my school, it is even more important that the classroom space be set up in a way conducive to new teaching methods. It irks me to have a square classroom with rows of desks just like the old days when I was in school. I think it limits interaction and impedes many of the types of activities best suited with technology integration. Students are uncomfortable and by extension I feel uncomfortable teaching in that environment. Even worse, my classroom was set up for an art room so it has a row of cabinets with a sink that takes up one full wall. On the other walls are white boards and the projector was mounted to the far left on one wall, which really limits the arrangement of the furniture in the room. It has taken me two years to find a good layout and still I feel dissatisfied with the possibilities. Another key factor with the classroom environment is the location in the school. My room is at the end of an isolated hallway, far from a bathroom, water fountain, and other teachers in my department. I just realized how much this has impacted my teaching because students are often tardy and because I feel so isolated in my teaching that no one else is around and I can’t collaborate with other teachers easily.

For these reasons, I have decided that next year I want to move classrooms. Although the available classroom does not currently have a projector or promethean board installed and that makes it a risk for teaching purposes, I have decided that the layout and location of the classroom are more important to accomplish effective teaching. I consider this an experiment, but I do think that I can be more successful in a different location and I’m excited to move down the hall. A huge benefit of the new room is the wall space that is available. Currently, I have no space to hang up student work or to provide a space for curiousity and exploration. For example, I want a wall where I can put up interesting quotes or facts that students find out on a certain topic. Since I teach Spanish and German, I feel there is a lot more room for creativity in the curriculum that I currently have no where to display.

Another benefit of the room is the amount of open floor space it has because it doesn’t have a whole wall of cabinets in the way. I would really like to experiment with desk arrangement and be able to leave the setup flexible in the classroom. Sure there are times when rows of desks are appropriate but then there are many times when it’s better to rearrange the desks into groups or a circle. I can’t do that in my current classroom and it feels very limiting.

I haven’t heard from other teachers that the classroom is very important to their teaching. In fact, I’m the only one who has rearranged my room (granted the others are well-established) but if I could I would rearrange every day. I think the change of environment is important to the learning and I hope that my risky move to totally move classrooms works out for the better.

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