On a brilliant October afternoon a couple of decades ago, the fire alarm shattered the tranquility. Our school was experiencing a gas leak. The students and staff hurriedly spilled out of the building and marched on to the practice football field. We were told to stay put and wait till the all clear signal could be issued. You’ve probably experienced such situations…1,000 adolescents herded outside and told to wait patiently. It was bedlam!
What I found so interesting was the reactions of the kids. They exited their institutionalized classrooms into a beautiful day and immediately came to life. As they frolicked in the afternoon sun, one droll young man approached me and said the following, Mr. Sturtevant…our staff much looks better in artificial lighting. I laughed uproariously, but the comment struck me. Just maybe it takes removing kids from a bland, sterile, uniform, institutionalized setting to stoke their creative juices and find joy.
And here dear reader, is where Dr. Casey Ewy makes a dramatic appearance. Dr. Casey teaches at Susan B. Anthony Middle School in Manhattan Kansas. Dr. Casey is all about DEINSTITUTIONALIZING classrooms. Her objective is to build a family atmosphere in her room which will bolster relationships, ignite creativity, and stoke engagement. Joining her on today’s episode is her team of like-minded colleagues:
Throughout the episode, you’ll hear my enthusiastic guests reference their core values. The following image is prominently displayed in Dr. Casey’s classroom:
This final image demonstrates not only a family atmosphere, but also student-led decor:
How about transforming your room?
Many classrooms are bland, sterile, uniform, and institutional.
You have it in your power to alter this depressing dynamic.
What you can do Tomorrow:
- Walk in to your room and objectively evaluate what you see
- Consider improving fluorescent lighting
- Ask your kids how they would improve your room
- Challenge kids to bring in a room decoration
Transform your room into a welcoming space. Perhaps, a family atmosphere will take route in your class!