Teachers discuss redesigning their classrooms for the new school year
There’s a visual language in every classroom. One that transcends blank walls to reveal teachers’ interests, past lives of alumni or of the curriculum. Embodied by posters, projects, photos of happy faces or a zen garden, it becomes apparent that certain teachers take time to customize their classrooms to fit their personality or intentions for the year.
Beginning in early July, multiple buildings throughout campus were renovated. Whether it be the annual polishing of floors in the F building, or the new heating and cooling system, flooring and fresh paint in the A and C buildings, classes had to be stripped of decorations and desks late last school year.
For history teacher Robyn Brostowicz, this provided an opportunity for teachers to purge old items and start with a fresh slate this year.
“I love the way my room looks and smells,” Brostowicz said. “It has a fresh feel to it. It’s definitely worth it in terms of coming back to a clean start, for sure.”
Since the renovation process of 24 classrooms required that all items, posters, pictures, student work and personal memorabilia be taken down, the process forced teachers to completely refill their barren rooms.
For art teacher Brian Chow, planning the layout of his three shared classrooms proved to be essential for staying organized. For Chow, labeling every box with the specific location he planned it to be used helped while moving back into his Commercial Art classroom in the A building, which has more wall space than the previous year due to the removal of excess windows and whiteboards.
“[It’s] absolutely crucial to make the room feel comfortable,” Chow said. “I do actually had a pretty well laid out in my head. But since I do share the room with two other people that you know, should have an equal opportunity for everyone to stick spots where they want to put stuff. ”
He notes that he wants his three classrooms to provide a cozy atmosphere where students’ can be inspired by others’ artwork. Still in the decorating process, he plans to continue what he had done years prior and showcase inspirational work.
“[I hang up things] related to the curriculum,” Chow said. “If we’re doing design, then there will be design type of things that are in here … student examples or other examples of artwork that might spark imagination.”
While Chow utilizes his prior students artwork to motivate, economics teacher Pete Pelkey plans to incorporate various calming items, such as a small zen garden and fountain, to further his aim of creating an inviting space. In addition, Pelkey says he will continue the trend of organizing his desk to be in the center of the classroom.
“The desk has to be in the center of the room,” Pelkey said. “I’m in the center of the room, which means I’m not scared of you and that I want you to be here. Then I make it a happy place because the Feng Shui of the room is very important with how the energy that flows through a room.”
To junior Molly Mobley, the room decor and setting of her classroom creates an atmosphere that she believes is crucial to how she experiences each class.
“I think it definitely does have an effect on the students,” Mobley said. “I feel like a homey vibe that’s welcoming is a lot better for someone’s well-being and their mental health because you know, it makes you want to be there, it makes you want to do well.”
Brostowicz shares how decorating her room with personal items opens a door for her to connect to students.
“I think it gives [the students] a little bit of insight to me as a person and as a teacher,” Brostowicz said. “And hopefully that gives them a little bit more willingness to trust me as a person since I’ve opened up and shared some of the things that are important to me.”