Through my seven years of teaching one grade level (third) at two different schools, I have had four different classrooms and probably hundreds of different classroom arrangements.
My first year of teaching!
I was hired two weeks after the school year had started. I had three giant whiteboards! I redecorated my door with my students’ names every month, which I now know was silly. I dearly miss my row of cabinets and countertop, along with my walls that I could staple all over.
My Second Year: This year was very eventful. We started a school, moved into a temporary location in a strip mall (with no windows and one bathroom for 600 students.) I made myself a fake window. I didn’t even have a whiteboard or curriculum or anything. Then in January we got all packed up and moved to our brand new building. I got all unpacked and taught for four months. Then in June, I repacked everything and moved it to the gym because my upstairs classroom was going to be turned into a middle school science lab. My new classroom was going to be in the new wing of the building that had not even been built yet.
So we started with everything in the gym and a brand new, somewhat hastily built, classroom. I vacuumed it myself (feeling like a ghostbuster.) Then I got everything into my room and unpacked. At this point I realized how much I liked great floor spaces for kids to work on, so every time I rearranged my desks (which was often) I always did so with floor space in mind. *foreshadowing*
Still desks, but lots of floor space. This would have been the first year I would have gotten to leave everything as it was over the summer and start the year “normally” except for the fact that over the summer I decided to go…
DESKLESS! Year Five:
So about a week before school was supposed to start I decided to try to persuade my principal to let me go deskless. I had a 25 page proposal with research and everything. Even without all the desks, I still moved the furniture around several times through the year 🙂 We did standardized testing in other classrooms this year so I didn’t have to worry about that.
Year Six: My room was not bad at all when I returned from the summer. I reworked the desklessness several times through the year. I started with the whiteboard kidney table at the floor and then moved it to be my desk that students can sit at one side. I also got a couch that was very popular.
We had to do standardized testing in my room, so I had to get many of my desks back for those few months, and afterwards I did a hybrid version of my classroom. This particular group of kids did not take to my room quite as well as the group before, so the hybrid was just as well.
My group of kiddos this year has really struggled with self-control and making good choices when it comes to where they sit. My classroom is really all about them, so it was in their best interest to get many of my desks back, have some days where they choose their seats and some days I choose for them. My kiddos that need a little more structure have permanently assigned spots and are thriving in them!
Even with desks, I still treat my learning environment as a living, breathing, part of my instruction and planning. It has a huge impact on my students every day and should be treated with as much respect.