A colleague stopped by my room to ask a question today. "Whoa!" she said, "What's going on in here?" She was reacting to the way the furniture in my classroom was arranged. Our school was built in the early 70's, and I know I have some of the original furniture in my room: heavy chairs made out of chromed steel with some sort of ceramic seats and backs (all in the harvest palette of the time, too-- gold, brown, rust, and red) and trapezoid-shaped tables that I push into hexagons most of the time.
My room is big but not huge, and I want a central space where the kids can sit on the floor in a circle, but I also want a place where they can meet in small groups, so we push the furniture around to accommodate those things. When we have class meetings, I arrange the tables in a big parallelogram with an open space in the center, and thirty of us sit around the perimeter. If I have a meeting, I move them into a conference table shape. It hardly takes a minute, and rearranging the room is stimulating and engaging for the students.
Tomorrow, the counselor is coming in to do academic planning and 7th grade scheduling. She wants to use the projector and needs the kids to be able to see the screen and copy what's there. When we were planning the activity last week, it occurred to me that this would be an opportunity for me to arrange my room in a configuration it's seldom seen: rows facing forward.
When the kids left today for PE and electives, I moved the furniture to prepare for tomorrow. Later I sat at my desk, off to the side, and visualized all the tables turned 90 degrees to face me, students silently working, heads down, as I presided over the class ensconced behind the big desk. It was a scene from my childhood, and there was something comforting and nostalgic about the vision, but it made me giggle, too, because it was sooooo not us.