The walls of my classroom are bare and my lesson plans are empty…yup, I am ready for school to start.
Yes, you read that correctly. I am just a few days away from student’s first day and the walls in my classroom are completely bare. The only thing you will see is a draped green screen and a few posters indicating which way to sprint and scream in case of fires or inclement weather. I watch my colleagues frantically putting up posters and bulletin boards while I spend time sucking the final drops out of the fruit of summer. Why do I choose to leave me classroom bare? Am I really that lazy? While that might be a perfectly reasonable explanation, that is not the whole story. The room in which I teach is not my room. Sure, my name is on the door and nobody else teaches in it during the day. However, I don’t think of it as my room. It belongs to my students. It is their room and their space. As a result of this, I believe it is their right to decorate and create the learning space that suits them. I don’t have a seating chart. How can I when I don’t know the kids yet? I don’t put posters up on the walls. How can I when I haven’t met the kids and determined their interests and needs? I have not filled in the bulletin board. How can I when I haven’t asked the kids what they want to look at every day? Yes, my room will fill in and be a place of comfort and learning but it will not happen until the owners of the room create it. You will see student work, pictures, posters, and all sorts of evidence of the true owners of the room.
In addition to my walls, the pages in my lesson planner also lay bare. Sure, I have a few ice breaker activities for the first few days penciled in, but nothing beyond that. Again, how can I put plans together before I have met the kids they will impact? Is it possible some lessons from last year will work again with my new group? Yes, but I will not assume what worked last year will work again. I work with plenty of people that just roll over their plans from year to year. To this day, I cannot fathom how a teacher can do this. If your students change, shouldn’t your approach to teaching them? As a result, my lesson plan book will lay bare until I get to know the kids in my class and see how we will achieve our learning goals. The learning journey in my class will again be driven by the kids on the journey. As a teacher I know the targets we need to hit and the standards we need to master, but the decisions of how to accomplish these will not be in my hands.
I urge you to clean out your lesson plan book and clean your walls. Let the kids in your classrooms create their own learning space as well as direct their own learning journey.