I’m very lucky because even though I no longer have classes at the high school, I was still allowed to keep my classroom as my workspace. This was partly because as the after school coordinator my room is used after school for a variety of activities and during the day as a meeting space for teachers. Because of this, my room has an impromptu closet for after school robotics materials and ping pong tables, flexible furniture, a conference room table and enough cabinet storage to store all of the after school supplies. I am extremely lucky.
Additionally, my room is connected to three other classrooms, though only one other teacher. This is something else I feel extremely grateful for…adult contact. As teachers we spend most of our day isolated from other adults and it has helped on numerous occasions to be able to walk into the other room just to be able to vent or talk to another adult.
My work area has transformed from my desk, 40 student desks, a desk for my projector, computer, overhead, papers, and photocopies for three different classes to a simple desk and hutch. Not having three different classes to prepare for has made the job of organizing and keeping tidy so much easier! Now I have a plain desk that I can actually clean off at the end of every day. That never happened when I was teaching.
My favorite part of my classroom is my art wall. At the end of French II I always had students do a huge cultural project. One of their choices was to reproduce a famous work of art. Many of the students let me keep their work and I have put them up with my copies of other works. I bet you can’t even tell the poster reproductions from the student reproductions! Just looking at the wall is calming and I am always impressed at the artistic ability of these students even years later. I’ve never been much of a classroom decorator, but these posters serve me well.
My other workspace at the community college is what I have called the most boring room possible. There’s nothing on the walls. The desks are long and difficult to re-arrange. It’s often smelly and the temperature is either hot or cold. I’m not there very long and it reminds me how much I appreciate the workspace I have at the high school. The lack of “interest” on the walls continually reminds me that the environment, while important, doesn’t in itself make the class engaging. The students and I are the ones responsible for that and I think we do a pretty good job!