Environment, Environment, Environment.
Well, let me first say, welcome to the book study. I know you've heard that already, but I haven't had the chance to say so in this particular book. Special welcomes go out to Delaware City Schools employees and Buckeye Valley Local Schools employees. As always, we hope you find this to be an interesting, convenient, and most importantly, valuable way of doing a book study.
Chapter 3 was about the classroom environment, something that is near and dear to me for a few reasons, those of you who know me well, know that my office is not the most organized place in the world, so this chapter served as a bit of a wake up call for me, and I hope (when I go in in the morning) will provide me with a kick in the butt to work on that...maybe some of your North Union Elementary folks can hold me to that... :-)
The second reason that this chapter hit home for me is probably the same that it did for some of you. I got to thinking about how I had organized my classrooms when I was teaching. Some of what Debbie Miller suggested in chapter 3, I'm sure I could have benefited from had I had someone take my hand the way she did with Katy when she was a first year teacher. What a blessing it would have been to have someone like that in your classroom to help you figure it out. It fits nicely with what we try to talk about somewhat regularly...use each other as resources, both for instructional content and delivery ideas, but also it may be nice just to ask someone, "Hey, do you think this is the best way to organize the physical space?" and other questions like that, all the while knowing that they aren't going to judge you. True effective coaching can't happen unless you are able to let go of the idea that you are being judged. The coach/friend/teacher next door/etc is only there to help you get better. That's it. Nothing more.
I wanted to point out a few things that seem very simple, but they sort of jumped out at me when I was reading. As is often the case, the best advice doesn't always have to be the most prolific. Sometimes simplicity is best, most accurate, and most applicable. Page 32 - Meeting spaces aren't necessarily only for primary classrooms. There is power in bringing the kids together to talk and discuss and share thinking. Page 33 - "Working independently doesn't always mean working in isolation." More and more, we are going to being asked to foster collaboration skills and problem solving within our students (21st century skills, anyone?). We have to give them places that they can do those things. Page 39 - Are the things on your walls "purposeful and authentic?" What do you see when you stand in your door way? Do you want to go in, or do you want to run and hide? If you want to go run and hide, What is one thing that you think you could change that would leave you feeling like your classroom is closer to the environment that you want it to be? What signals does you room send to you? What signals do you want it to send to the kids?
Final question/prompt/thought for the week:
Name some ways you've involved students in organization of the classroom (or ways/things you think you might like to try.) How does your classroom environment talk to those who enter it? What does it say about what you value and expect to happen in there? Give specific answers such as, "There are 3 beanbag chairs in the reading corner because I want the kids to _________"
Have a great week everyone.