Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What is a Classroom?

The classroom. 
(photo credit: Dollar Photo Club)

If you are NOT a teacher, then it is just a place that teachers spend their day doing their job so that they can pay the bills. A place called "work" or "the job site". A place to send your kids to learn.

If you are a TEACHER, then it is your home away from home. The place where you spend the majority of your day. For some teachers, it's your "baby" (as Jennifer from First Grade Blue Skies says), your happy place, your escape from the ugliness of the world. 

And if you are a STUDENT, hopefully it is YOUR "safe place", YOUR home away from home, YOUR happy place, YOUR escape from the ugliness of the world. For teachers and students, the classroom isn't just another room. It is a magical place where you can be anything YOU want to be. A place where you can expand your mind and LEARN! A place where you can feel safe to express yourself in a variety of ways. A place where life-long friendships are born. A place where you feel LOVED and APPRECIATED. A place where you are greeted each morning with a smile and a "Good morning" by someone who is GENUINELY happy to see you.        

A place where you want to be. 

(My classroom on the last day of school)

I was asked the other day why I spend so much of my summer vacation in my classroom. 

My answer? 

I want my classroom to be a place where my students are excited to come to everyday. A place where they can be proud to call their own.
 I want my classroom to be open and inviting to parents, students, and other educators. 
I want my enthusiasm and love of teaching to be seen when you walk in my room. 
I want my room to inspire students to be excited about school and learning! 

At my school, most of my kindergarten students will have never been away from home (no preschool, no daycare). When they set foot inside my classroom for Meet the Teacher night, I want them to be excited to come back for the first day. That is important to me and that is why at least one day a week during my summer break I have been at school working in my classroom. 
Yes, it is a lot of work. Yes, it is dedication. Yes, some may call it unnecessary (not me!). But it is what I do and what I want to do. For me the summer isn't a time for rest and relaxation (I do a lot of that too!), but it is a time of preparation and planning for my new little darlings that will be coming to me in a few short weeks. 

For me, a classroom isn't just a a room in a building where students come to learn nine months out of the year. For me, a classroom is MY home away from home, MY happy place, MY escape from the ugliness of the world; a place where I work my tail off trying to help my "kids" become the best readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, historians, artists, explorers, creators, inventors, and kids that they can be. It is a place where I KNOW that I am making a difference, no matter how small. 

It is a place that I love. 

Does it mean that I have to work a little bit harder? Yes! Does it mean that the reward will be a little bit bigger? Definitely! Is worth it? For sure!  If it means that at the end of the day, week, month, or school year I have just one student who felt a little safer and a little more loved after coming to my classroom, then heck yeah it is worth it! Because let's be honest, that is the real job of a teacher. To create an environment where students feel loved and feel safe. If placed in a safe and loving environment with a person that truly cares, a child will learn. So if I have to work just a little bit harder to create that environment, then I am going to do it with a smile. Because that is what a classroom is - a place where children can go to feel safe and loved with a little bit (ok a lot) of learning mixed in.

Happy summer and I hope that you are having as much fun working in your classroom (or planning for your classroom) as I am!