Thursday, August 18, 2011

What's mine is yours - Welcome to my room

Click here to view my beautiful art classroom
The year was 2009. January. I was about to start my first position as a new Visual Arts teacher. The students would be arriving any day. My head teacher showed me my classroom. It was tired, dusty, lifeless. Possibly because the 3-5 teachers who had used it for short periods before me had never made it their home. I didn't care. I was excited to have my own room. And so, with cleaning products in hand I cleaned away as much of the dust as I could and filled up bag after bag of paper, cracked paint trays and old clay heads made by students I'd never met.

At the time I didn't know how much work it would take to make this room my own. My head teacher's room was light, dust free, organised, colourful and huge. I was a little jealous The old unused mac lab was also part of this room. Ooooh, it was nice.

My room was small. There was zero technology. Lucky for me my head teacher hired me because of my interests in technology. I claimed the mac lab as mine. I cleaned it till it was shiny. I introduced small units of work where these labs would be used.
After a year or so my three days a fortnight turned into full time, then eventually permanent.
I began to use my head teacher's room as I was keen to use the smartboard technology. This didn't work so well as some things in her room went missing or got broken by my kids. It became very clear that I needed to take ownership of my room and make my room work for me.
In my room I asked for a smart board. I got a projector. I asked for a laptop even though I was not one of the teachers on the list for that rollout. I showed others how interested I was in incorporating technology in the classroom. I projected images on the whiteboard with great success and was able to use the white board marker to underline key content. Now that's interactivity for you ;-) Only three times have I run my finger down the board to 'scroll down' accidently forgetting I am not using a smart board (much to my kid's amusement). Lucky for me I have never used a marker on a real smart board.

One day I ran a lesson where I showed the kids a movie clip on Expressionism. Within a minute it became very clear I needed some decent speakers as the kids couldn't hear a word. Good thing I had an alternitive activity up my sleeve. After a year or so, a music teacher asked me if I wanted her speakers. I set them up in the room. "Cooooool Miss! Where'd you get your speakers? They're awesome". I started to let the kids play some tunes when doing prac. I've never been so happy to have such fabulous speakers!
I've painted the cupboards and around the sink a few times. I've painted the display cabinet outside my room to show colourful student works. I try to rearrange things. I put up posters where there is space. Books go missing, things get broken, dust resettles, and paint gets spilled. I've learnt to live with that. At times my internet freezes as my laptop runs off the router which is located in the music room next door. I make sure that I can continue with the lesson whilst I wait for a Prezi or website to load so that the lesson is not too disruptive. At times I fear all of my Year 10's are simply too big to be in this room, although we often have prac lessons spill outside. The unit of work using soapstone carvings based on the sculpture of Henry Moore has been a huge success - the Year 10's loving the tactile nature of the stone, although the dust makes my classroom floor as slippery as an ice rink. Even if we work outside, the shoes of 20 kids brings the dust back inside.

I've come to see how the setup of the classroom directly influence classroom management. I've tried moving tables, removing tables, adding tables. Although I've always come back to the original set up, I still keep trying new things.

I'd like to welcome you all to my classroom. I've made a link above using the very cool app '360' - a nice panorama shot of where I work. I would love you to visit if you have the time.
I can honestly say this room is now my own. It is mine to share with my kids. I am responsible for it. I've completely come to love it. My door is always open whenever I am teaching and I always encourage people to visit.

All the best,
Ms Leaney

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