Originally, I figured that the school year would come to a close and my journey would conclude. It had been a long, exciting, emotional, and empowering journey with my students. We spent the last 6 months together researching, taking action, presenting, and discovering what the ultimate classroom might look like. (The prior posts in this blog are evidence of our journey.) After all, Exhibition was done and a new year would begin in the fall.
Several people have asked me if I would do the same project next year with my students. My answer... I don't have a clue. I'm not sure what my students next year will be excited about. I am also not sure where I will be on my own personal journey.
So, how did I leave things? Well, within the last few weeks of school, I started to go through all of my things in an effort to purge what I wasn't using. The result, a large garage sale like pile full of professional books, manipulatives from when I taught other grades, outdated resources, and so much more. I know as teachers, we tend to save everything as resources are not cheap and at times are hard to come by, but I realized that if I wanted to hand the classroom over to my students, I needed there to be more stuff for them and less stuff for me. As I reorganized cupboards, I had two "rules" that stuck with me:
- If the cupboard was accessible to students (lower), it could only contain items students should be able to get on their own. (Things like games, manipulatives, supplies, etc.)
- If I hadn't used the resource in the past two years, I was getting rid of it.
The last day, after students had left, I began the pile. I removed visuals from bulletin boards, walls, and cupboards. I started to move all of my furniture towards the center. I kept the desks in the center, but made sure they were still accessible to students. Everything that was feasible to move, I moved. I also went on a hunt in our building for a new table to hold my desktops. Prior to the end of this year, I had two very wide and long tables that held my four desktops. They took up a lot of space. Upon searching, I came across two smaller trapezoid tables to hold the desktops that would allow students to easily work with peers or individually and take up less space at the same time.
What do I intend to do with the pile? Well, my students next year will be deciding. As part of our initial activities for the year, the students will be designing our room. As of right now, I am not sure how this process is going to look, I'm still working on it and I'm sure the students will have some ideas for me as well. We spend so much time at the beginning of the school year showing students the aspects of the classroom, teaching them how to use it, how to put it away. Why not give them more of the ownership? After all, aren't they the reason we do what we do?