Conditions in schools throughout the country are varied. While some have idealized conditions, some teachers attempt to create learning environments in buildings infested with mice and mold. It amazes me to hear that there are classrooms that don’t keep out the rain!
In the spirit of raising awareness to this national problem, I am participating in the AFT’s Let’s Get it Right open house. AFT (American Federation of Teachers) recently released a report documenting some of the conditions (many of them horrible) found in our classrooms. In addition to the report, the folks over at the NCLBlog are asking teacher bloggers from around the nation to share their teaching environment.
I have to admit I am lucky. My school is just turning 20 and while there are some run down qualities throughout the campus we are in pretty good shape. No doubt a harsher climate then southern California would take a higher toll. Other then a slight odor in my room (some days it is more slight then others), I have few complaints. I did find a mouse trap in the ceiling over the summer when I moved into the classroom with three decaying bodies, but they were small and I haven’t seen any other signs of them.
I have new carpet, air conditioning/heat most of the time, seven good sized cabinets, a long counter, an office that I share with a colleague, and now a telephone in the room. My only complaint is that my department has been trying to get our video projectors mounted for closing on three years – I have part of the mount hanging about six feet about where my projector sits on a rolling cart (complete with three long cords connecting it to the computer, DVD player, and wall). But compared to many teachers out there, I’m just spoiled.
Other classrooms in my building (including my previous one) have carpet coming off the floor, but that is the worst of it.
I have had my own classroom for all but one of my 11 years teaching, so I’ve had a chance to settle in and create an environment that I think best suits my teaching style. For the items I used the monies passed down by the district, written grants, and even spent a decent chunk of my own money.
Some of my classroom customizations include:
- A nice stereo (grant money) with six speakers (personal money) to create the full surround sound experience
- A large desk (given to me by another teacher) completely covered in papers.
- Plants (personal money – they’ve lasted almost five years now!)
- Video projector (grant money) and large projection screen (department money)
- New laptop (district money)
- Posters – a different set for each semester (district money)
- Extra file cabinet and small couch (personal – old furniture)
- Lots of books (district and personal money)
Everything was arranged and installed on my own personal time. Having all of this stuff really makes it so I don’t have to worry about my classroom (other then a little organization). The students are comfortable. I’m comfortable. It is too bad that this isn’t the rule. How can we (the American people) allow poor conditions in our schools?