My Teaching Space

#Kinderblog2012 Question Numero Deux

Tell us about one (or two, or a few) of the classrooms you have had over the years. Not the kids, the ROOMS. What have you loved? What have you hated? How did you FEEL in the space? What did you DO with the space that, looking back, seems ridiculous? Or brilliant? We all spend so much time in our classrooms, we really do develop a relationship with the physical space. Tell us about that (those) relationship(s).

I have spent my 22 year teaching career in the same school. I have had many teaching assignments and many rooms to call my own (sort of) at the school, but none really seemed to be ME until five years ago when my then teaching partner retired and I had a chance to redesign my space to fit ME.

I started off in 1989 in a room filled with…NOTHING. It was literally and figuratively empty but for one container of Lego and a few desks. I moved in, created what I thought was a good space for a Grade 1 class, moved things around, and two weeks later was in a car accident that had me recovering for four months. That room never really felt like it was mine because my replacement teacher made it hers. I spent a few years in that room, but it never really came together as a space, perhaps because of the way my career started. I never got the confidence builder of being able to see that first year through because of my accident. It was best to move to a new space and start fresh.

My second room was beautiful. It was located in the newly built addition to our school and It had shelves under the windows that freed up floor space. The only problem? I had to have my desk by the window, not a less conspicuous corner. I didn’t like how my desk seemed to be the focal point of the room when anyone walked in the door…it was straight ahead, you couldn’t miss it, nor could you miss the mess that one of my teaching partners left on my desk each week. I felt good in that space and enjoyed teaching there…until circumstances changed with my career…is that cryptic enough? It would take an entire year of blogging to really work through all the emotion of what has happened over the course of my career. Another blog, another time.

Over the next few years my teaching rooms changed many times. I worked in the Multi-Purpose Room teaching K-7 Music. The room was a dumping ground for everyone else, but I tried to keep it full of life with the 7 musicals I produced for the school in 4 years. I was teacher-librarian, but again, the pride of space came from me and was hard to maintain with a one day a week contract. By the time I would get back to the library the following week, it was always a mess and the piles of books to shelve were overwhelming. My third location of work for this time period was the kindergarten room. It wasn’t my room, nor was it set up the way I would design a room. That’s ok, though, as I only taught there one day a week. It wasn’t MY space. For those years, I was a nomad who really didn’t have ownership of any of the spaces I taught in. During that time, my office was my haven. I put up posters of tropical islands so my cubicle view was more calming and conducive to creativity than all of the other spaces I had to work in. My office grounded me in some very chaotic years.

My current classroom is one I am extremely happy with. When my teaching partner retired five years ago and I took over as head Kindergarten teacher (even though I was still part-time), I took everything out of the room and started from scratch. I moved the desk away from the window and put it by the storage room door. I covered all of my bulletin boards with bright, turquoise fabric and royal blue border. I wanted a beautiful colour to surround me and my students at all times. There is so much gray in our weather, the sunshine needed to come from within the room. My SMARTBoard became the new focal point in the room, and all of my lessons center around it. I got a beautiful carpet that would help my students find their personal space.

I think I have finally found a classroom situation that is distinctly ME. Because really, as a teacher, is our classroom not an extension of who we really are?


10 thoughts on “My Teaching Space

  1. Thanks for sharing! I love your honesty Telling about your journey making your space your own. You are right, the space should reflect yourself and your teaching style. I like the colorful, welcoming feel you created!

    • Thanks, Lora! The more I think about it, the more strongly I feel about classrooms needing to fit the character of the teacher. I hope I have created something warm and inviting for my students.


  2. Please tell my assistant principal that the room needs to reflect the teacher, she keeps hounding me to set my room up to reflect her (current) style. Great post & a wonderful attitude toward sharing space. Can definitely feel your joy at finally being able to make the classroom yours.

  3. I can’t believe that you’ve been in the same school for so long – that’s amazing. And I love that carpet, I’ve always wanted one like that (so pricey tho). I’m glad you have found a classroom situation that is you, that’s wonderful. 🙂

  4. I love what you said at the end of your post, ” is our classroom not an extension of who we really are?” And I appreciate that it took so long to create your space, it takes a long time to find our teachers voice, just as it takes time for us to find our environment voice.

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