I began this year by changing classrooms. I'm not sure that changing classrooms is ever a fun or easy undertaking, but I went into this move with mostly good feelings. I'd spend the past year sharing a large room with a co-teacher, in which we tried valiantly to run two classes in a space partially separated by a movable divider, occupied by many children and many paras. We did our level best, but it was crowded and busy and never quiet. My new room is actually my old room, where I first started my career ten Septembers ago, and it was a strange sensation to go back into this deeply familiar space as a very different person and teacher.
The move also gave me a specific and wonderful opportunity. As I launched The Liberatory Library here, and at school in my teaching practice, I also got to launch it intentionally in our space. I spent several long August days unpacking and sorting and arranging and rearranging and decorating, and the result makes me happy every day. Even as I continue tweaking and altering, as my kids and I live in the space and bring it alive. So, here's what I walked into in August:
Ugh. Click to read more, and see the lovely "after." (And the scary cat painting.)
Yeah, the space wasn't in good shape when I walked in. Most of the stuff there is mine, but there were plenty of souvenirs from the previous tenants (mostly in the closet and cabinets, as fun surprises). Also there to greet me was this cat painting, staring up at me from a milk crate full of someone else's books. Thankfully I had coffee in my fabulous travel mug, and a best friend to call for moral support. (Her first suggestion was to take a deep breath, and her second was to get rid of the cat. Thank goodness for smart and helpful best friends!) Let's fast forward to the end!
So there it is! Our liberatory library. Since my last time in this room, I learned how to pick one style of decorations and colors, which helps this small space not feel chaotic. A couple of things to point out:
Finally, here is our room in action, at its very best. These are some shots of the kids working together in groups to search out the features of nonfiction books for our current reading unit. This is the space where we do most of our workshop work. We have a big marker board where I also hang anchor charts, a chair where I can sit to talk with them and read to them, and space for the kids to sprawl out. Sometimes they bring their chairs, sometimes they sit in the floor, and sometimes they use the assortment of other options we have around— high stools, footstools, a blue spinny chair, and a couple of plastic storage bins. (This is our very casual, low-budget version of flexible seating. It totally works for us.) Here: education as the practice of freedom!!
Writing about practicing literacy and freedom with my small humans.