I am a huge fan of Pinterest and I really, really, wish that I could have a Pinterest worthy classroom of my own. You know the ones I am talking about… super organized, colour coordinated, everything in it’s proper place… I am so sure that given the time and budget, I could decorate and set up a Pinterest worthy classroom but I know that my Type B personality will only allow my room to look Pinterest worthy for about 30 minutes… right after my students arrive… on the first day of school. It’s no secret in my school that I have the “messy” room with the “messy” desk and instead of being embarrassed by it, I have learned to embrace it and wear it as a badge of honour. So, all you Type B personalities with messy desks and messy classrooms, this blog post is for you! And if you know a teacher with a messy classroom, please pass this on to him/her… it just might make his/ her day!
#1. Do you have multiple coffee cups around your classroom?
Of course you do!
First of all, this means that you understand just how important caffeine is to the modern teacher. The feeling of wrapping your hands around a warm cup of coffee while breathing in its’ incredible aroma is enough to calm you down during the most annoying of classroom moments! And let’s not forget about the sudden jolt of energy it provides you right after your lunch break… you know, that exact time of day when you wish you could curl up on a gym mat and have a quick power nap?
But being a teacher, you know that it is virtually impossible to finish a complete cup of coffee while teaching a room full of children. Puh-lease! I can’t even accomplish this at home each morning with my two youngest children so how could I possibly think that it would be possible to accomplish this in a classroom of 20? Half the time, I cannot even remember where I put my cup down while I am working with my students. Hence, the multiple coffee mugs – both ceramic and take-out – that are strewn throughout my classroom. And let’s not even start about the levels cold coffee that are left behind and wasted… “insert sad emoji face here”.
Multiple coffee cups around your classroom indicate that you are a very busy teacher! You are continually walking around, helping your students, and working with little people who constantly need your attention. You put aside your caffeine addiction to put the needs of your students ahead of your own. Those coffee cups prove that you are a hero! It’s not easy leaving a cup of coffee behind but it is a lot harder to let the needs of your students fall to the wayside.
#2. Do you have multiple stacks of corrections around your classroom?
Of course you do!
If you are like me, you have several piles of workbooks, notebooks, and exams that are ready and waiting to be corrected. You also have them in piles in different places around your classroom. Some might be on your desk, that is… if you can actually find it…, one might be on your guided reading table, some might be in your teacher bag, and some might even be on a filing cabinet. Some people might think that this is a little strange, but to teachers with messy classrooms, having piles around the classroom is actually quite practical.
As an engaging teacher, you can never guarantee that you will be able to stay seated at your desk to correct anything for any significant period of time. So, with piles of corrections placed strategically throughout your classroom, you are never very far away from paperwork that needs your attention. So, when you are blessed with a few moments of peace and calm, you can use those precious minutes to do your correcting. No matter where you are in your room, there is a pile of correcting within an arms reach. More correcting now means less correcting at home and you truly don’t want to take all those corrections home with you!
#3. Is your desk a disaster?
Of course it is!
Mountains of papers, curriculum guides, parent notes, correcting… it’s all there and if asked, you could could find anything you need in a matter of seconds. What other people see as a messy desk, you see a placeholder for all the important pieces of your job that you need throughout your day. You know where everything is and that’s what counts.
But why? Why is your desk so messy? It’s quite simple, actually. You are a teacher who teaches away from your desk. You are animated and engaging, and chances are your desk is in a back corner facing completely away from your students. You use your desk as a dumping ground for all the materials that you use throughout the day because… let’s face it… you don’t have time to put all your manipulatives, games, centre activities, and worksheets in their exact place during your teaching time. You are too busy teaching and interacting with your students to tidy it up! And goodness knows you will probably be using these same items throughout the day or week so keeping them on your desk makes it really easy to access them again!
#4. Do you have art supplies all over the floor of your classroom?
Of couse you do!
Scrap papers of various colours litter your floor. Tissue paper crinkles under your shoe when you cross the room. Random pencil crayons lay on the floor and 1 or 2 or 5 pencil sharpeners have fallen and emptied their contents all over the place. Oh ya… and it’s only 9:30 a.m.
Being the reasonable and logical teacher you are, you choose NOT to grab the broom and start cleaning things up right away and the other teachers in your school walk by and shake their heads in disbelief. Some even have heart palpitations at the sight of your classroom. But not you! You are cool as a cucumber and you encourage your students to continue their activity without paying any attention to the mess that has accumulated all over your classroom floor.
What does this say about you? This says that you are a teacher that understands the creative process. You allow your students to get lost in their imaginations and allow them to concentrate on expressing themselves through whatever media they are working on at the time. Whether it is writing, drawing, colouring, sculpting… you allow your students to fully immerse themselves in their activity of the moment. Cleaning up messes can be done once the students have harnessed and expressed their creativity. But to interrupt the creative process to clean up a messy classroom is unacceptable to teachers like you.
Mess is best – or at least that is what I believe!
If these examples apply to you, consider yourself to be an exceptional teacher! Share this with a teacher who will appreciate the sentiment just as much as I do!
Have a great day!