At SEEC we have been making changes to our classroom environments over the last three years. There is no question the environment influences everything from behavior to feelings. Think about the difference between how you feel in a busy urban city vs by a stream in the woods (what will feel better to you is very individual!). The environment in our spaces are not just the “third teacher”, giving the children cues about how to behave and making visible what we believe about educating them, they are also the physical representation of the time we spend together in that space. I believe that these spaces should represent the teachers as people, that they should reflect the daily lives of the children and the adults spending time there, and that they should respect the needs of everyone, children and adults.
These classrooms are our “living rooms” — they are the places we live together for many hours a day. They should look more like spaces of living, of wonder, of curiosity than like spaces of instruction. They should have color that warms, softness that calms, spaces where both children and adults can be comfortable, and stories of their time together beautifully displayed in ways that show respect for wonder and curiosity and that reflect the voices of the children. We are working to make our spaces “living and learning” rooms rather than “classrooms” because this is what we do together every day!