Maritime Academy Charter High School, or MACHS for short, is currently located in Frankford Arsenal. All of the buildings “on campus” were never designed to be classroom; in fact they are old barracks. The hallways don’t allow for more than two people to walk shoulder to shoulder and there’s and up and down staircase. The classrooms have little space to move around in and most have awkward pillars in the middle of the room. My classroom is the largest on campus and can hold 25 desks and a few tables comfortably. I do however have a lot of dead space because of a pillar by my desk that doesn’t allow me to see the back half of my room. During the beginning of the year I had desks in groups of four, however I wasn’t able to walk to each student’s desk. Additionally the students had little room to get in and out of the desks, so I had to move it to four rows facing into each other. I didn’t love this idea because I love having my students work with each other and in groups, so I had to make partners with the two rows. Also right now in the back of the room, I have a table where students come in and grab their materials, which usually gets congested first thing as class starts. It also causes a lot of students to socialize versus getting into the math groove.
However, the high school has outgrown its building and so we are moving. I’m ecstatic to be able to have a place where students can be proud of their alma mater. Right now the students don’t have a proper cafeteria, gym or auditorium, but they will next year. So when I first thought of redesigning my classroom, I was just happy at the thought that I will have space to have the classroom I first thought about when I started my education career.
My classroom will first have tables where groups of four or five will work. I will have enough space to allow students to have the ability to all face forward and not be crowded, as well as allow me to get to every student. I want tables because collaboration in problem solving is one of the most important aspects of math. Also, every other quiz that I give to my students are group quizzes, so to have that collaborate space is essential. I also want students to learn from one another because that is a helpful learning strategy and to further promote my family atmosphere.
I also want each group of students to have their own storage and workspace. I am not sure what form it will take, whether a bookcase or a table, but a place to grab resources and store their class books. I would also love more than ever to have a computer for my students to use in my room. Many of my students do not have access to the Internet at home or to print their papers for class. I would also love a space where students can check their grades or do additionally research to questions they may have. A space where students can relax is a must too. Math is sometimes seen as a stressful topic and with a space to stretch out and relax can honestly do a lot of a variety of students. It will also promote a risk free atmosphere where students can feel free to ask better questions.
When I was looking at videos of teachers redesign their room, I first thought of what I want to give to my students more than anything, and that honestly is just a safe space because many of them don’t have that.