July 31, 2022: Physical Space
What will your physical space say about your values?
That was a question that was posed to the new teachers during our induction sessions a couple weeks ago. We were exploring the considerations they needed to make as they determined the set up and organization of their classrooms.
The list of considerations is not surprising. Age and grade level of students; content being taught; materials and space needs. But we do not think too much about how our physical spaces also give insight into our values and priorities.
And not just classrooms.
Think about the spaces in your life. Your office. Your bedroom. Your family room or kitchen. Your front porch or back deck. What does the arrangement of the furniture say about what you feel is important? What does your artwork and decorations say about what you value? Yes, each room is likely different, based on what the purpose of the room is, but those overarching values come through.
I recently began following a world-famous writer on social media and she often shares photos of her working space. While her office is more cluttered than I would find comfortable, it is clear that most of these nick knacks and items were given to her by her children. Clearly, her family connections are a central part of her values. And most likely, her inspiration and motivation.
These thoughts were rattling around in my head this week, as I spent much of the time at my school building, moving into a new classroom. For the non-educator, this sounds like a pretty standard and simple process. For those who have worked in schools, you know it is an arduous, exhausting, and often stressful process.
For me, it involved moving 28 years worth of teaching supplies, files, materials, furniture, and resources, into a slightly smaller classroom, that is upstairs. Yes, there was much purging, cleaning, sorting, tossing, and giving away of things I had not used recently and those I would most likely not be using soon.
Then working on the arrangement of the room. Where to put things to be most productive and useful. One of the first considerations for me, was making sure I had enough shelves for my books, and making them easily accessible for my students. Because my physical space always highlights the value of books!