Room 202. That’s my classroom.
A room that somehow feels more like home than the rooms I occupied for years at a time at the school where I used to work. How can that be? I worked at my previous school for twenty-one years – in four different rooms over time. So much happened in those spaces. Celebrations, learning, growth, trauma and drama. I was in each room for at least four years. I taught in the last one for seven, I think. I adored the students I taught and think about them still every day. Yet this room I have been teaching in since September somehow speaks to me the most.
Every morning when I walk into the space, it acknowledges. “You’re here.”
It isn’t the memories. I don’t even have a year’s worth.
It’s not the number of stories. We are still in the middle of making them and not yet at the recounting stage. Some years need to go by first for that.
It isn’t familiar things that bring comfort. My books came along but the rest of the room is pretty much new to me.
What is it about this space that calms me every morning – before students, before school noise, before we’ve even begun?
Things don’t matter most but there are things that have significance. I spent much of the summer getting ready. It wasn’t about decorating so much as readying. Thinking about flow. Putting up shelves. Filling them with books. Finding places for plants. Organizing cabinets full of materials. Considering. Wondering. Being.
I love watching my tall white stool get lugged around the room every day. I smile watching students poke at new growth on plants, rock collections and strange pieces of wood on display. I never tire of watching a child stand and stare at a row of books on a shelf, contemplating. As things get tossed into our big wooden boat, I am grateful there is a perfect sized counter to hold it.
It isn’t about being in a brand new space that is fresh and perfect. This room is old. It doesn’t have a sink. My floor is marked and gouged in places. I covered up an entire wall of old blackboard full of tape marks and scratches. It wasn’t magnetic. You could barely write on it. It is most suited to hide behind newly attached book shelves and to be covered in book jackets. I have cabinets missing handles. Patched up holes where mice once ran a regular course. The traffic noise from a busy street is distracting during rush hour. Yet this isn’t what I notice. Not now. Not often.
Maybe this room calls to me because it is where I spend so much time thinking about potential. About new. About change. About finding place. It hasn’t disappointed me. Filled with students, it does its thing well. There is flow. There is learning. There are readers perched in all the spaces I thought readers would perch and read.
This room feels peaceful. This room feels safe. This room feels celebrated. Children want to be in it. It is filled with their art. It has room for their questions. It has space for their growth.
This room also has space for me. It welcomed me when I was a stranger to this school community. It stood and waited while I pushed tables around, located shelves and found a rejected carpet that is happy to be re-appreciated. It let itself be changed. It let itself become what I needed it to be. It waits patiently while I figure things out. It doesn’t judge as I make my way with new students, in a new grade in a new place.
So many students and teachers came before me and my class in this space. I don’t feel them. This room is just ours. We have found our place.
Room 202. My classroom.
I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.
Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.