In Ontario, school starts on Tuesday. As educators go back to the classroom this week to get ready for the students, social media is full of posts about classroom set-up. There are beautiful photographs, amazing videos, and lots of talk about the environment. My terrific teaching partner, Paula, and I have spent most of the week setting up. Every day, we add a new update to our class blog, letting parents and students have a look into the “process” as well as the “final product.”
I was doing some thinking on my car ride into school today. While I love seeing what rooms look like — and am often inspired by what I see — I also love hearing the thinking behind the decisions. Yesterday, a fellow Ontario Kindergarten teacher, Anamaria Ralph, published this blog post that highlights some of her thoughts around classroom environment and set-up. Her post inspired me to share our “why”: the thinking behind the classroom environment decisions that we made. I decided to try my hand at something new, and make a vlog discussing our decisions. When Paula and I set-up the room, it was our rich conversations that stayed with me, and so I wanted to add that conversing element to this post. As you’ll hear in the vlog — and I do apologize, as it’s long — some of our decisions vary from the ones that Anamaria made. That’s okay. If we were to take 20 Kindergarten educators, we’d probably have 20 different thoughts on how to design a room. It’s not about being right or wrong. What matters the most to me — and what I find the most inspirational — is the thinking behind the decisions.
So as you continue to work on your classroom design, I hope that you’ll consider sharing the “process,” and your “why’s.” Maybe that will be in a blog post. Maybe it will be in a vlog. Maybe it will be in something different altogether. But let’s engage in that risk-taking that we encourage our students to do, and put ourselves out there: not in an effort to be perfect, but in an effort to be visible and open for feedback. Then, as the weeks go on, the children come, and the environment begins to change, let’s share again and explain the reasons for the changes. Imagine how much we could learn from each other. Who’s with me? Let’s live up to the hashtag that Lisa Noble shared with me yesterday: #visiblelearning. I like the idea of starting a new school year in this “visible” way.