Time to stand and stare-does your classroom have it?

Time to stand and stare-does your classroom have it?
It is half term week in many areas of the UK and what are the majority of teachers doing? Sitting with a cup of tea and a good book, having a glass of wine and a good meal, relaxing and switching off? Well maybe for some of the time, but if the evidence on social media is anything to go by many are planning their classroom environments for the second half of this term.
I started to think about a tutor’s comments many years ago when I was on my final teaching placement. She came to visit me in my first week on placement to make sure everything was in place. I had spent hours making resources and setting up my classroom. I proudly showed her round and described all the exciting learning experiences that would be happening over the following term. When I finally stopped talking she was quiet and then said ‘that’s all great but where’s the time to stand and stare?’ She made me realise that in all my planning I hadn’t left any time for reflection, every minute was accounted for and every part of the classroom was full of stimulating experiences. Her question has stuck with me and influenced every classroom environment I have provided ever since. I believe it is vital to have a quiet area in every classroom, somewhere that is peaceful, somewhere children can think, somewhere they can sit quietly, somewhere they can take time out.
I think we should always look at our classrooms from a child’s point of view. One thing I ask my staff to do is to get down to the eye level of a child in their class and take photos, it amazing how different things can look from the view of a 4,5,6 year old (the piles of clutter under the table which you cannot see are right in their line of sight!). A colleague talks about classrooms as being like ‘a chocolate box’. I love this analogy and have adopted it to describe how I want children to feel when they enter my school. I want children to come through the door and have that feeling of opening a new box of chocolates, the excitement of new learning experiences waiting to be explored. Margaret McMillan talks about ‘an environment where learning will almost be inevitable’.
However as well as learning we should also think about giving children those quiet times, space to think and reflect. Tina Bruce talks about ‘the kind of environment that allows children to wallow and take as much time as they need’.
Plan a quiet corner in your classroom, a space with calming colours, cushions, small throws to wrap up in, beautiful natural objects to look at, pot-pourri to appeal to the sense of smell and allow in your busy timetable that ‘time to stand and stare’.
Kathrine

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