After reading Adam Simpson's post Dealing with the physical aspects of the classroom, I decided to follow his example and think about my own classroom. On this blog, I've reflected on many aspects of the teaching profession; I have described what I do in the classroom, I have analyzed my students' motives, actions and deeds, and I have written about the importance of PLNs and communities. I have done all the reflection without even mentioning the most obvious and commonplace - the place where I spend most of the time on week days.
Luckily, a while ago I made a video of my classroom that I can share now. The room in the video is not empty, though - it's full of students moving around, crawling, running, falling down and jumping, which I think is to the good because classroom is not a static place after all. Classroom is, and should be, full of life and motion (and emotion). As I was the cameraperson, things are seen through my eyes - the way they are every day (unless we write a test or do a boring grammar exercise :-). So you can see my classroom in a 'natural setting' - with chairs and things scattered all around, children having fun.
As you can see, the room is not very big - it can accommodate up to 18 students and that's the way I like it. I can easily check on all the students while they work without having to run a marathon.
There are two large windows which let plenty of daylight in. However, when it's cloudy outside, I have to switch on all the lights.
There are no obstructions or columns and the ceiling is high enough.
There are no carpets but the linoleum is new and smooth. It imitates the appearance of parquets, thus it adds a cosy touch to the whole interior.
There are coloured walls - painted bright orange (which some colleagues find too striking but I consider it invigorating and energizing).
There are plenty of posters, postcards and maps to make the room look more colourful.
There are plants on the window ledge and on the floor.
Most of the furniture is movable so I can change the seating arrangement whenever I need to.
What you cannot see in the video is the traditional blackboard with traditional chalk and sponge (I don't mind them), projector, movable screen, computer, speakers and other essentials.
Most of the drawbacks are related to technology, not the room itself. But as technology is a vital part of the learning environment, I'll mention them briefly.
The computer is not the fastest in the world but I can cope with it if I get ready for the lesson in time.
The speakers don't work properly and I hope to get a new set soon. I consider appropriate audio equipment to be one of the most important things in the EFL classroom (especially for a non-native English teacher). That's why I always have a portable CD player at my disposal.
There are no window blinds so it's better to watch videos on cloudy and foggy days.
The central heating is difficult to control - we freeze or sweat, nothing in between.
All in all, I love my classroom, even with all the flaws and imperfections. Anyway, it's my students and I who make it a special place, aren't we? What is a perfect but empty classroom with all the latest technology and perfect learning conditions? It's just a cold place. It needs to be brought to life by creativity, innovation, play, laughter, engagement, ..... and happy people. By the way, I believe that, in a way, every classroom reflects the teacher's soul. So what is your classroom like?