Sunday, July 24, 2016

Giving Up Control

The puppies decided they didn't really want to sleep in this morning, so I was up early (well, early for me.... some of you people... oy!) and reading through some of my blog posts from the past few days. As I was reading this one by George Couros it definitely got me thinking about all of the time I spend in my classroom and how it's changed over the years.

I used to be that person who was in my room for hour and hours getting things set up and looking perfect for the start of the year. Then I started following the Daily 5 workshop format, so I left a lot of information off my walls. All of the anchor charts that went with the Daily 5 activities were made with the students, so my bulletin boards, my word wall, and my motivational posters were up, but large chunks of my room were empty so we could create those charts together. I often wondered what parents thought of those empty walls because the stereotypical elementary classroom is all butterflies and bumblebees and color and Pinterest whoooaaaaaa, but nobody ever really said anything much about it.

This summer I've also started becoming more interested in learning a little bit about self-regulation thanks to these posts by Aviva. While I'm patiently waiting for my book to arrive, it got me thinking about all of the "stuff" we have all over our classrooms, and do I need to have less stuff instead of more stuff to help my kids be successful?

All of these puzzle pieces led me to write this statement in my "New Ideas" document that I've started this summer:

Ask the kids how THEY want to set up the classroom and what THEY want to see on the walls.

That was quickly followed up with these questions:

Do I give the kids guidelines - a space for this, a space for that? 
Do I tell them what I used to do?
Do I just let them go and see what they come up with?
How do I deal with the fact that I have two distinct classes instead of just one? Do I really have the time for the second kids to rearrange the classroom, or do they just deal with what works for my morning kids?

I'll be quite honest, I am very intrigued by this idea. I'm just wondering if I can really give up the control necessary to let it happen, and I also wonder how I can blend the needs of both my classes so that the room works for everybody. I think that my fourth graders would actually do a great job with it, so I think this may be one of those times where I just have to go for it and see what happens. At the worst, I come in some weekend and reset the room, and we try again. Isn't that what life's all about?

Anybody try this? How has it gone? Any pointers for somebody who's just giving it a go for the first time? 

1 comment:

Joy Kirr said...

I leave the walls empty, and let students know I expect to see their ideas / photos / work on them. We start the year with their photos and they choose character traits to write or print around them. They choose the size of everything, including a background color/shape, and where to put it on the walls. After open house, I hear a lot of "I don't like my picture, can I take it down?" and so I let them replace it with something else of theirs. They LOVE this, and create drawings or sculptures, or whatEVER. The room looks a bit wild, but it is surely student-driven/decorated! I began this as soon as I gave my desk over to them...! Did you want tot ry that?? ;)