Who is most important in the classroom? Who is the classroom designed for?
Obvious answer… the students!
But if you take a second look at a typical classroom, does the physical space and set-up point to the same answer?
Teachers typically have a large spacious desk with multiple drawers, many of which that lock.
Teachers typically have a large, comfy, adjustable chair with wheels,
Teachers often have a private, locked cabinet for their personal possessions (bags, wallets, phones etc.).
Teachers typically have a personalized corner of the classroom where they post pictures of their families, friends, old classes etc.
Arguably you could say that teachers spend more time in the classroom than students – that it is their home away from home and therefore they need more comfortable furniture. Arguably you could say that teachers have more to do than students and therefore need more space. Arguably you could say that teacher’s possessions are more valuable than students and therefore need to be locked up. I’m not sure I agree.
Students spend a large part of their day in their classroom and I’m sure if you asked them they would say it is also their home away from home. Students have SO much to do and organize in a day – multiple subject, assignments, binders, notebooks, projects – and I’m sure if you ask them they would say they would like more space. Students come to school with many valuable things, not only wallets, lunch money and phones, but also precious and sentimental toys, books and artifacts and I’m sure if you asked them they would like to be able to safely lock up their treasure.
So if we return to the original question – who is most important in the classroom – the large desk, comfy chair, extra space, personal photos, locked storage… it would seem like many teachers have a lot more comforts and luxuries than their students. Why is this the way it is? What does this reveal about how teachers and students are viewed in the school system? Does it have to be this way?
As a teacher, I wonder what it would be like to spend a year with a simple desk, a basic chair, an open cubby in the hallway and no personal pictures on the wall.
Maybe I will give it a try and find out…
I love this! I ditched my teacher desk/area many years ago and have never looked back. I store my personal stuff (purse, bag, coat) in a cubby right in with my students. I believe strongly in the need to incorporate connectedness to home in the classroom (I teach K) so we have a “family” photo wall where everyone (including me) has a photo of their family (attached to the wall via velcro so that the students can take them around the room if they’d like). I use the same pens/pencils and other supplies as the students. The room really is ‘ours’. I find that this way of being in a classroom helps to reinforce that I am meant to be a co-learner (I don’t always succeed as staying in this role in practice, but I am working on it!). I do have cabinet space that is secure to store student confidential information.
Our classrooms sound very similar! I loved spending the year as a co-learner. Sharing the same learning spaces and materials allowed me to empathize with my students participate in collective decisions as an equal member of the community. Thanks for sharing your ideas and experience! 🙂