I am a big believer in the psychological and emotional power of physical spaces. The environment in which we learn impacts how we learn and the emotional experience we attach to learning. I have been working through the years to create a classroom space that offers students a welcoming, interesting place that makes them feel at home while also prompting them to engage in varied learning adventures. I did the research. I engaged in webinars and Twitter chats. I spent far too long on Pinterest. I found my intent to be supported by current educational theory. But, mainly, I just have a real personal attachment to spaces. Depending on how they are designed, I feel happy or inspired or threatened or intimidated. I need my students to identify their English class with emotions that empower them to learn.
I have spent a few years now designing this space. I've created reading corners, collaboration stations, gallery walls, student work displays - all with the intent of providing students with a sense of comfort, value, and engagement. I don't want them to feel like school is a system, an institution. That's not fair. I want them to feel like they are at home in my room, like my room is their room. Though learning often happens when we are out of our comfort zone, I don't think that means that students need to be uncomfortable.
I really like my classroom space. It reflects who I am as a person and as a teacher. All it's missing right now is the energy and thoughts of the students who will fill that space for the next ten months. I can't wait to share my room with them.