I Have A Dream (Dear Santa)

I’m drinking coffee and doing some tidying before the holiday night, and find myself subsumed by this daydream.

Books. Everywhere. On every rag-tag shelf, well loved and bruised, 2000 or more. A stuffed magazine rack. And an overflowing collection of superlative DVDs with attached writing prompts, from BBC Planet Earth to Kurosawa, in a glass case.

Like the New York City Library, there are enough stand-alone lamps that the flickering fluorescents would never be turned on.

There is a wall of honor, a six foot dripping collage with clippings, pictures, articles, publications, and celebrations; opposite that, the gallery of framed, student-created figurative language heroes, representing the effort of generations on a single assignment.

From the ceiling lights (now unused and perfectly suited for floating art), a rotating display of six or seven bright, art-deco type mobiles with key English concepts. (These are also created by students and no doubt covered with asphyxiating amounts of glitter.)

Plants in every nook and cranny, the bird feeder just outside where we collect and send data to the Cornell Orinthology Laboratory, a pile of bean bags, and the tech corner (an as-yet fictitous 4-6 wi-fi laptops, collection of digital voice recorders, Kindles, Ipods, and the digital projector) complete the scene.

There’s no teacher desk. There isn’t now. I got rid of it in August, which I consider one of the small successes of this school year. I sit (when I do sit) at the writing conference table or among the kids, which is astonishing– astonishing— in its simple power to help me communicate with and manage the class. More on that later, I think.

But mainly, I realize, that this dream is completely contingent upon one factor: years, and years, and years, in the classroom.

I want this.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

17 thoughts on “I Have A Dream (Dear Santa)

  1. I have a teacher desk. It’s shoved up against the wall, in line with all the other tables that have teaching stuff piled on them.

    I like having it there because there’s some stuff I want to keep out of sight, in drawers, but still fairly handy. I almost never sit at it, even though there’s a computer on it, because that’s the computer that drives my projector, and I use my laptop for anything I might need.

    I also spend most of my time at the kids tables, and I really like it that way. The only time it’s a problem is when I’m having a sub, and I don’t know where to leave the lesson plans.

    My ideal room? Lots of couches and pillows, non fluorescent lighting, but I’d replace your bookshelves with floor to ceiling whiteboards, so kids could be at every wall working on whatever problem they were currently at…

  2. But mainly, I realize, that this dream is completely contingent upon one factor: years, and years, and years, in the classroom.

    I want this.

    I’m keeping these lines to think about during the break.

  3. Great vision. A few years ago I was getting observed and I sat with the kids while they were working on something. It utterly blew the mind of my admin (who I still respect greatly, by the way). It’s amazing how crystalline the structures in school can become, from the behavioural to the actual physical confines. See Orr’s new book for some vivid examples of that. What’s even sadder though is that many people cannot even imagine alternatives, or perhaps they haven’t had them modeled. I’m not so sure your vision depends on “time” as you state. Seems more like imagination (philosophy?) to me…

    PS – Happy Christmas. Turns out that the star the 3 wise men saw was probably a summer star. It’s thought that Jesus was actually a summer baby. But you know, gotta subvert the Pagans and their Solstice.

    PPS – God bless those Pagans. – Homer Simpson

  4. I look forward to seeing your room. You’ve already done the hardest part- getting started.
    Merry Christmas, Dina! 🙂

  5. Mr. K–we don’t have white boards all around the room, but when the building was remodeled 4 years ago, they put floor to ceiling bulletin board materials on all the walls. I love that because now I can stick pictures and posters everywhere. I often come in and find that a student has put their picture up on one of the walls. I just leave it. Adds to the interest.

  6. @Delaine: Eureka! CORKBOARD! Hmm…

    @Kim: Ditto. We should take a professional development day apiece and tail each other, don’t you think?

    @Mr.K: Tell you what. I’ll paper a wall with corkboard over the summer in the dead of night if you put in a wall of whiteboard, and we can send each other photocopies of our disciplinary citation letters. I get you on the drawer issue; I’ve solved the problem by lumping all my desk supplies with the kid supplies (we all use the same stuff anyway), and then using a tupperware-type three-drawer thing tucked under the conference table for attendance books and passes etc.

    @Joe: I know what that Happy Christmas wish costs you, so double thanks. As for imagination versus time, point taken, although I still contend it’s going to take me time to collect 2000 books with no school funding. 😉 Orr’s got a new book out? What is it?

  7. Just found your blog and am enjoying “getting to know you!” I don’t have a desk because I’m a part-timer in someone else’s room. Works great for me and I think that when I’m at a work table with students I’m more available for conversation that formal assistance.

    On getting books–do you have a donors choose account set up? I used to sit on the board for a charity and we funded book requests via donors choose all the time. I highly recommend it.

  8. 2000 books is a dream of mine too.

    I’ve also been thinking of moving out the teacher’s desk. I have mine shoved against the wall now, maybe I’ll dispose of it next month. I’d add round tables, and the absence of student desks to my own wish-list.

  9. How are you always so amazing? It boggles the mind.

    (I do have to say that I really honestly like fluorescent lights and boring desks with hard chairs, it’s the only environment that inspires me to get anything done. If I were in a classroom with comfortable chairs and lamps, I would just think and sleep and fail the class because I could never write anything down.)

  10. @Dave:Totally undeserved, thanks, and see my latest post. 😉 One of the things I heard in a workshop recently that stuck with me is that every physical modification a teacher makes discriminates against *someone* in your class, and I suppose my couch would discriminate against your narcolepsy. How to make most people happiest and productive at once? Seems to me this is the central question of all societies, even my little fourth period society.

    @Neil: you’d think I’d love round tables, but I don’t; ours waste area big time. I’ve switched to desks in clusters recently. More modular.

    @Sarah: tell me more! Email me.

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