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What Your Classroom Says About You!

Teachers work hard to create comfortable and encouraging environments for our students to learn and grow.  But what do these spaces say about the educators occupying them?  Today, Education World has outlined some of the classic teacher spaces found in schools across the world.  See if you can find your classroom and see what it says about you (We’re pretty sure you’ll find some of your co-workers here, too)!

The Disaster Area

Characteristics:  more loose leaf paper than a recycling station, desks and tables constantly arranged in an enigmatic manner, lots of milk crates and cardboard boxes that don’t seem to have any particular function within the room, entire place wallpapered with diagrams and student work, the ruins of past projects scattered about, a pile of what looks like theater props shoved into a corner, the maintenance team’s nightmare

You’re the MAD GENIUS!  Appearances are so deceiving.  You might look like a wreck to the untrained eye, but you’re absolutely brilliant.  You shine in the throes of organized chaos:  Socratic seminars, theatrical presentations, students standing on tables acting out scenes from Hamlet or modeling the chemical reactions in costume…Your classtime is the wildcard of your students’ day, and neither of you would have it any other way!  Your ability to teach conventional state standards in completely unconventional ways knows no bounds.  And despite the snide suggestions of your peers, you know exactly where everything is in that mess.  There’s method to the madness.

The Pristine Sanctuary of Learning

Characteristics:  desks and tables perfectly aligned, procedural signage everywhere, colorful corkboards each clearly assigned a particular function and purpose, a plethora of small labeled plastic drawers and buckets from Target, color coded items that have never been color coded before, online “life hacks” actively put into practice (bread bag clips used to organize wiring, markers attached to the wall with Velcro)

You’re THE GENERAL!  When you say “jump”, you’re students aim for the stars.  Your room is broken up into stations:  a place for everything, and everything in its place.  Books are alphabetized and organized by subject matter, supplies readily accessible and color-coded, students know exactly how to organize their binders, where to put homework, the procedure for borrowing markers, and how to leave their desks when they leave the room.  Your classroom is a symphony of structure and order and although it takes a while for them to adjust, the students love and appreciate the clarity of your systems.  It makes them feel safe, in control, and appreciated.

The Pad

Characteristics:  overhead lighting traded for floor and table lamps, posters of both classic and modern music and pop culture, living room furniture casually incorporated into the space (may or may not include bean bag and/or inflatable chairs), faint smell of Nag Champa incense and yesterday’s lunch, hand-carved items upon the walls, a large box of percussive instruments

You’re THE SENSEI!  When students have a free period or a moment in between classes, they come to hang out in your classroom to hear your thoughts on life, the Universe, and everything.  You provide a welcome relief from the sterile structure of the educational institution.  In the classroom, you use this rapport as a tool to reach even the most challenging students, easing them out of their protective shell, encouraging taking the risk, and engaging them in real-world learning.  The students appreciate your level-headedness and willingness to meet them where they are.  Your world experience offers a perspective well beyond the walls of the building and challenges students to think outside the box.

The Warehouse

Characteristics:  a generally empty room containing traces of previous teachers, tacks in the wall that still hold the edges of posters past, settled dust upon unopened cabinets, a ripped construction paper-covered corkboard with a cardboard holiday border hanging lazily on one side, an untouched globe from the early 80’s (without its stand), due to the barrenness the eye is naturally drawn to the single laminated fire drill procedure map posted near the door with its highlighted route

You’re the RINGMASTER!  You are the cart teacher.  Due to space limitations or your personal preferences, you have your entire bag of tools on a classic metal mobile cart.  With your life on a cart, you are the definition of “flexibility”.  Teach in rooms 4?  Sure.  Whoops, now room 7?  No prob.  Outside?  Even better.  You roll with the punches and have the patience of a saint.  From that cart, you produce the wonders of the world:  technology, models, art supplies, projects, historical artifacts, everything a teacher could possibly need – all marching out like a hundred clowns in a car.  And like the circus, you roll into town, wow them, and leave them wanting more!

The Sage’s Lair

Characteristics:  mysterious jars containing both liquids and solids of unknown origin, tanks and cages filled with organic material (potentially sentient), wooden and metal clamp-like devices that surely serve magical purposes, cabinets filled with tokens of past expeditions from other worlds (other dimensions?), mysterious tubes and piping coming out of the wall at seemingly random angles, the constant hum of hidden machinery, at least 3 but no more than 7 signs warning you to take great care

You’re THE WIZARD!  Your room is a cavern of wonders.  A museum of rare antiquity.  Everything in your classroom, floor to ceiling, activates innate curiosity and queries about the true nature of the world.  You often manage your classroom with ease, as students have an underlying illogical fear that at any moment you could unleash some creature from the dungeon you likely have hidden behind your secret bookcase.  Your students are absolutely certain you have otherworldly powers, as so many of your classroom demonstrations seem to defy the laws of physics.  The awe you inspire in young people motivates them to explore the magic in their own world!


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Written by Keith Lambert, Education World Contributor

Lambert is an English / Language Arts teacher and teacher trainer in Connecticut

So, what does your classroom say about YOU?