I was chatting with some fellow teachers yesterday through google hangouts. While we were waiting on a few people to arrive on of them joked, “we should do a through the keyhole type tour of each others classrooms. Who would teach in a classroom like this?” I said that you’d know which was my classroom straight away, because it doesn’t look like a classroom. Which it doesn’t.
My room is called the Sunshine Room. It has a fitted kitchen, kitchen table with eight dining room style chairs, a sofa with cushions, curtains and blinds, a rug patterned with colourful buttons and a big low blue table that is shaped like a flower with small multi-coloured chairs all around it. My room certainly doesn’t look like a typical classroom.
It doesn’t operate like a typical classroom either. I only have 6 students at a time, this year drawn from P1 and P2. They are with me for most of the day, eight sessions a week. The bunch I have are diverse, their needs are big and sometimes the emotions that they have to deal with are big too. They aren’t really settled to learn and find fitting in with the routines and structures of school too challenging. Maybe they are quiet, withdrawn and solitary. Maybe they are whirling dervishes who can’t sit still for two minutes together. Perhaps their emotions rule their behaviour and the only way they know to deal with the disorganisation inside them is to act it out. I take a mix of these unsettled children and put individualised targets and plans into place for each of them. I provide them with missed early years experiences and fill in the gaps that are causing them to struggle in the world of formal education. Sometimes they come to me with no nursery experience. Sometimes they come with fragmented experiences of early years provision that they found difficult to access because they weren’t ready for it. My room is a mix of these wee ones who I am tasked with supporting, helping, nurturing, caring for and settling to learn. I have a window of up to four terms to work with them and then they go back into their classes full-time. My room is a nurture room. My job is to provide a safe base for them to revisit, or often visit for the first time, those learning experiences that will allow them to settle to learn. That will enable them to be ready to meet behavioural expectations and join in with the structures and routines of the classroom.
My room doesn’t really look like a typical classroom.
My day doesn’t look like a typical day.
My focus for education isn’t the typical focus of levels and data and attainment.
But I think, for my wee bunch, its right.