Welcome to my classroom! I was so intimidated when I walked into my room in mid-July. Suffice to say, the janitor had not made it to it yet and the room was in need of a good cleaning. The most pressing needs were the floors and the walls. There were a couple of different colors in the room and the floors had not been stripped and waxed well in a few years. So, with the loving lending of paint supplies from my in-laws and primer from my parents, I primed and then painted my classroom. I was able to get my first can of paint for less than $10 because of a sale and then used the generous PTA donation to supplement the second can as well. I'm so pleased with the results!
From there, I mostly cleared out unneeded furniture, outdated materials that were no longer on point with our classical curriculum and sorted through so many old textbooks. Doing all of this left me with a clutter-free, clean space to work with! In the pictures below, you'll see highlights like our Sacred space, my classroom library, and worktables.
I have three designated student spaces: their desks, lockers, and a shelf of supplies. I keep extra paper, pencils, and other needed items like tissues and pencil sharpeners on the shelves. I have two tables that are used during group work as well. I love having different work spaces available to allow them to spread out! It helps them work together without getting into one another's space.
Finally, my favorite space is all thanks to my wonderful, generous MIL. She used to work as the teen youth minister at her church and had rugs and pillows that she was willing to share/donate to my classroom! My classroom library features a variety of different books for students to pull and read. They also can use the pillows on Free Read Fridays to find a cozy space in the room and just read for one entire period. Needless to say, we love our Friday afternoons around here.
What do you think? Would you enjoy a classroom like this? I really believe in minimalism and intentional pieces rather than just stuff and that definitely carried over into my classroom. Cool gray tones, simple bulletin boards, and greenery all contribute to a calm, relaxing environment that I think my students enjoy.
I felt vaguely pretentious this past Tuesday at my evening class when I answered where I worked:
St. Regis Academy.
Academy really does have a different connotation than school, doesn't it? The school was renamed (and rebranded) over the summer to reflect the curriculum shift to a classical-style curriculum. It can also be labeled as a liberal education style. But what does that even mean?
The Catholic Institute for Liberal Education (who has provided a workshop and other resources for my coworkers and I) uses the words virtue and beauty to guide their mission and curriculum development. A classical curriculum focuses on what Philippians 4:8 encourages us to remain focused on: the good, noble, wonderful, and truthful. Most importantly, a classical education does not exclude the presence of other subjects, particularly religion, in its conversation. Ultimately, the model helps students return, again and again, to the Truth: God created the world and everything in it, including what we learn in school each day.
Our academy approach chooses real books over annotated textbooks, uses basic education principals like repetition and practice, the physical act of writing, Socratic and mimetic teaching, and the use of excellent examples of literature and art. It is return to the greats, the classics, the truly remarkable and beautiful. But it also understands learning better, encouraging teachers to meet students where they are and provide scaffolding and support to each learner. The new good parts of the new are included (true differentiation, a better understanding of different learning styles, and educational styles) while the best of the old is incorporated in as well.
A liberal education not only teaches facts and figures, skills and rules, but also teaches critical thinking and reasoning alongside beautiful conversations that return, again and again to Christ. It creates an educational space that allows students to not only learn about the incredible creation of God, but to wonder at it, allowing students to say "wow".
So really, the Academy isn't pretentious; its beautiful. We may not have stone columns and arches, but inside our school, we are cultivating a new generation of scholars who are faithful to their loving Father.
First year Catholic educator in the Classical curriculum style. I teach middle school English-Language Arts.