Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Space for Everyone

I spent the day in a meeting and rearranging the room.  The meeting was, unexpectedly, quite good.  It felt good to have a plan, to have a process and to work closely with such a great group of my colleagues.  But the best parts of the day, for me, always happen in my classroom.  It felt good to catch up one on one with people I enjoy working with in my own space as they trickled in and out.  And it felt equally good to sit in the silence and take the space into consideration.

Sitting in various spots around the room gives one a very different view of the space.  The major pieces of furniture are in place in my room, so today was my time to make sure that the little physical space details start to come together. Moving around the room and spending quiet time just sitting and taking in the environment from the various locations gave rise to some major changes from a child's perspective.  But minor changes from an actual doing aspect.

For instance, looking towards the back window corner from my desk it appeared I had this great space created at the "carpet" area.  For those of you who are not teachers, the carpet area is sacred learning space.  A space where the whole class can come together and learn in unity away from their individual spaces.  It's a pretty intimate (read tight) space.  One that has to be set up to be conducive to a group of people being able to focus on their learning, while also trying not to bump into the person next to them.  From my desk, it looked big, it looked possible.  It even looked inviting, from my desk.  From the carpet, it looked dark; the easel and teaching area were backlit from the windows.  Think teacher and chart paper/lessons completely in shadow.  From the carpet area it looked cramped and tiny.  The room was blocked off from view by a big bookshelf on wheels.  There was nothing inviting or big about it at all!

After spending 1 minute sitting at the back of the carpet and realizing the effect from the student's view, I flipped it.  I put the teaching space on the opposite side, I got rid of the bookshelf that blocked off part of the room, I lined comfortable chairs around the outer edge.  The whole room looks different.  It even improved the look and feel from my desk area.  I love these moments.  The ones that have such an aha! emphasis at the end.

We get so caught up in what our own perspective is that we forget at times to think about how the children experience it.

This is true in many of our interactions with kids.  A reality worthy of taking a moment to sit back and reflect on~ from a different spot in the room.

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