What if we welcomed people into our classrooms the way we welcome them into our homes? Would that make a difference in the the culture of our classrooms and our schools? What if we approached learning in the same way that we approach a conversation with someone who has stopped by our house to visit?
Think about the front porch at your house. Does it have plants or flowers? a wreath on the door? decorations? or perhaps some seating? Are visitors greeted by a welcome mat? Does it convey, "come on in!"?
As educators do we greet our students on the front porch with a smile, ushering them in for a great day of learning? In what ways can we make our hallways, doors, and entry ways more welcoming? Does the front porch of our classroom send the right message? Does it say, "Great things are happening in here--come on in!"
In my living room, we have a large sectional couch. It's comfy and can fit our whole family, our dog, and any number of guests who drop by. (Sometimes it is also home to Legos, action figures, and random piles of Pokemon cards.) It says to you, "come in and get cozy". It's a place where we sit and read books, watch the neighbors pass by outside, or just relax. It's where we live.
Do classrooms allocate space to living? Most classrooms I've visited are filled with desks and chairs and filing cabinets, not much space for living. What message does that send? There's no living happening in here! No space or time to get comfy.
How might we re-arrange our classrooms to reflect our homes?
In my house, we often find ourselves around the kitchen island, talking, snacking, doing homework. It is our central hub for almost everything. Pull up a stool or stand and chat as dad cooks. There's room for everyone.
Where does this exist within our classrooms? A place to gather, talk, plan, create. Do students have a spot to stand with peers, have conversations, and make something?
Sometimes the kitchen gets messy. Too much clutter or a recipe gone wrong. Education is messy, too. Do we have a space in our classroom where messy learning is encouraged? Lots of schools are creating makerspaces for messy learning, a place to foster creativity and innovation in meaningful ways. How is that mindset reflected within your classroom space?
Our homes are personal spaces. It's where build our most important relationships and raise our children. We are doing those things in school, too. We are building relationships with our students and learning with them in a space that often feels nothing like home. Let's consider the ways that we can welcome students into our classrooms the way that we welcome guests into our homes. How can we renovate our learning spaces so that they say--Welcome. Come on in!