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Who owns the space allocated to 6MW? Is it mine or my co-teachers? The students? A combination? These questions are ones that I have been pondering over, ever since I was challenged to think about its ownership, during a recent PYP course I took.

It has long bothered me that as a general rule my students don’t seem to care how messy our classroom is. Is that because they do not view it as their space? Or is it that I care because I prefer it to be neat? Perhaps it is a mix of both.

I wonder too. if I want my students to share ownership of the classroom, why do I decide where they should sit? We change seats often, every two weeks as a rule. I wonder could I hand this job over to them? Would that responsibility give them more of a sense of ownership over the space? Instead of always being teacher directed.

Or classroom displays. I have long thought that most students take very little notice of classroom displays. Lovingly laminated posters of maths facts or cute sayings, rarely if ever get commented on. On the other hand, they do take some notice when it is their own work on display. Especially if that work is used as a deliberate reflection tool, such as student created Art works. Yet taking some notice and ‘ownership’ are not really the same.

I am not the only teacher grappling with this thought. The year two teacher at my school has taken to allowing her students to hang their own work up in the classroom. I love it when I enter her room now. The first thing thing I notice is that it is filled with student work and that it is all hung at student eye level, without care for pretty borders and straight edges. Student ownership of this space is clear. I wonder though if for many teachers our need for control and neatness is manifested in organised and ‘pretty’ classroom displays? Mrs T too, now allows her students to sit where they like. I wonder, has choosing daily to sit somewhere different allowed them more ownership of the space?

What do you think, do you or your students own the classroom you work in? How do you resolve displays, seating plans and neatness?

Photograph taken last year during the provocation for our unit, ‘How can we ensure the space we have available meets the needs of the learners?’

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5 comments

  1. This is a great thought, Henrietta! I would personally think that students would react more to their own things on the wall. It makes students feel so special, and I think it would make them feel a sense of ownership. I do think that the free seating would make them have a sense of ownership also, but I could see this being a problem whenever friends sit together. Let us know what works out for you, I’d love to know!

  2. You make a great point and your post is a thought provoking read! I thought about a colleague who, last year, let her Year 1/2 students sit wherever they wanted on a daily basis and loved the freedom and choice that this provided. However this year has felt the need to revert to allocated seating because some of the students aren’t ready for/can’t cope with the responsibility that comes with that freedom. I know she wants to get to a point to go back to ‘sit where you like’ and is putting into place lots of discussion to help all students manage that effectively but it will take time for some.

    I love the idea of students putting up their own displays – definitely food for thought!

  3. Pingback: Reflection 8: Classroom Chronicles – Who owns your classroom? | Carly Bachman

  4. I think leaving the students in charge is a great idea, especially when it comes to the displays. My only concern would be the tantrums when one child can’t sit next to their friend because another has sat there already. I think children need the structure. When I was at school if we were naughty we would sit boy, girl, boy, girl and we all hated it… how things change.

  5. I also think it’s a great idea to let the students hang their work on the walls and take control of the displays. I think that when the students feel more like it is their own room, then they feel much more relaxed, and it is a more comfortable environment for them to work in. They often feel more willing to participate in group discussions, as they feel as though they own the space, meaning that they feel more homely.