For the past week, the teacher I share a classroom with and I have been cleaning our classroom. When we first walked into it last week it was trashed. There had been quite a bit of construction done in the room including some electrical rewiring and an intercom system placed in the wall. Everything in the room was topsy turvy and covered in dust. When we first saw the room we were pretty bummed out, but eventually found it an opportunity to rethink the space and transform it into a much more useable, student-friendly room. It took most of the week to do. We even deep-cleaned closets and cabinets. We were ruthless in tossing out stray papers, old projects, and broken furniture.
And now the space feels so much more open, calm, without clutter. It’s a lot more fun to teach in. It feels organic, more natural, especially in transitions from desk work to group work to whole class activities. A good start to my penultimate year. (I will be retiring in two years!)
A commitment I have made before I retire is to get this teaching thing right. I am reminded of Mrs. Dubose in To Kill a Mockingbird who is a morphine addict and after being told she will die soon, decides to go cold turkey to stop her addiction before she dies so she can die beholden to nothing or no one. Before I retire, I want to kick all my sloppy habits and perfect the classroom experience as best I can. I want to leave the profession having refined my skills as a teacher by creating an environment where students feel comfortable to learn, to share, to form meaningful relationships, to take risks, to find relevance in the work with which we engage, while simultaneously (and with some enthusiasm) growing their skills and knowledge base.
The maximum feng shui of the room has finally been secured. Now to focus on the quality of our interactions with each other and with the material we are exploring together.