Tuesday, January 18, 2005
What messages does your classroom tell visitors?
It is easy to see what is valued.
When I visit schools it doesn’t take me long to gain an impression of what counts as important. Of course it is only my impression but after visiting countless classrooms over the years I at least know what I like.
I think room environments should reflect the creativity of the students and the belief system of the teacher and hopefully the whole school.
In the small part of Christine’s classroom pictured above there is a lot to notice. I can see that she believes in celebrating the thinking and creativity of her students by the care she has taken in displaying it. In this process she is not only demonstrating to her students she values their work but she is also is unconsciously teaching design and visual literacy skills.
The students are aged seven and eight and the work is all of high quality. I note that she values the importance of close observation by the quality of the monarch butterfly drawings, part of a science study on these ever popular insects. As well the students have enlarged their original small drawings to colour in and add to the display. Finally she has encouraged them to move from the observational to the imaginative as seen in the large pastel art pieces. Observation is an important skill easily over looked; developing student's imagination is equally vital.
Simple stuff and well done. I know also that Christine has taught her students to take their time, to look hard and, when working, to ‘slow the pace’ so as to do their ‘personal best’. This sense of quality is also reflected in the research charts on birds from a previous study also on display. These charts indicate she has taught students simple design graphics to improve their presentation. The message she continually gives her students is, that if it is worth doing it is worth doing well.
Christine herself is pictured providing ‘feedback’ and ideas for her students to consider. She is well aware of the need to be careful about doing this because she wants to preserve each child special way of seeing and thinking. I know she sees her role as a ‘creative coach’ focusing on personally helping each learner to continually extend what they can achieve.
All these ‘messages’ can be seen in a few minutes. If you were to stay longer and see the day unfold, and if you were to look ate the way students happily work at their tasks, and as well, take a quick look at their bookwork, your first impressions would be confirmed.
Next time you visit a classroom look around – what messages can you pick up?
Ideas for criteria to evaluate your room you can be found on our website.
Other photos to view