I had a chance to visit with a relative who is busy preparing for the arrival of their first child which is due in early July. She talked about planning the baby’s room, picking the perfect crib, getting those just right shelves, and of course selecting the best color scheme. It reminded me of the work that went into getting things ready for our kids, the paint, the crib, the shelves, the picture frames, etc. As we were discussing this, I could not help but think about the way we set up our classrooms and the way we are intentional in using the environment as the third teacher. Later this month, a teacher in our school (#WaldheimSchool) is working with two colleagues to look at her learning environment, taking time to reflect on the year and then plan for the future. As an administrator, I’m excited by this, but just a tiny bit nervous when I also consider the budget, but as a fellow administrator once said, “if you want to know what a school values, follow the money”.
Margie Carter wrote a great article on the learning environments we set up in our buildings, and in it there are several great quotes. What do these statements cause you to think about:
"More than the physical space, (the environment) includes the way time is structured and the roles we are expected to play. It conditions how we feel, think, and behave; and it dramatically affects the quality of our lives" Jim Greenman.
"Our thoughts as reflected in our designs, in turn shape children's beliefs about themselves and life" Anita Olds.
"The environment is the most visible aspect of the work done in the schools by all the protagonists. It conveys the message this is a place where adults have thought about the quality and instructive power of space" Lella Gandini.
"Every person needs a place that is furnished with hope”, Maya Angelou.
When you go back to your school, I’d invite you to take a second look at your environment and think about ways you have been intentional in your design. If you can make the time, take a walking tour of the classrooms, and ask your peers why they have gone the route they have. Think about ways you can make your physical environment the third teacher in your room.
As usual, I'd love to hear your thoughts.