When designing my classroom environment, I want to create a space that supports students in becoming useful members of society. I want to encourage students to learn and grow in all aspects of their life: cognitive development, social development, physical development and most importantly spiritual development. I believe that all students have the ability to become valuable members of society, but they can’t do this on their own they need an environment that gives them the support and tools to help them become the best people they can be.
I think the best way to accomplish this is by offering students a variety of opportunities and settings to discover and develop their interests in a constructive way. Our role as the teacher is to guide them on this path while they discover who they are and who they want to become.
Creating my classroom environment was about pulling every detail and aspect of the design to support my vision of education. I believe that school should be an extension of the home and so I created a space with soft colors, cozy corners and natural lighting. I wanted to create a shared space while also giving individuals personal spaces they can take responsibility for. I believe that choice is an important aspect of education; I included a wide variety of spaces for students to choose from during work periods.
Theories of Vygotsky greatly influenced the layout of my classroom, instead of individual desks, students work at tables with groups of four. The teacher’s desk is a horseshoe shape that students can pull chairs up to for questions or small group work. I think it is important for the students to be able to easily approach peers or their teacher to get the support they need in understanding material.
As I believe that school should be an extension of the home, I also believe that religion is an integral part of education. In my classroom, I created a worship center in the corner of the room with large windows behind it and a round rug for students to sit on. Every school day begins with worship or chapel because I believe that the “education of little children is in heaven, leading them by means of an understanding of truth and the wisdom of good into the angelic life, which is love to the Lord and mutual love, in which is innocence.” (Heaven and Hell, 344) It is extremely important as educators to protect, nourish and grow a love for the Lord in little children, which is why I start everyday with worship.
I don’t believe in knowledge for knowledges sake; all we teach students should be done with purpose. That is why I love the Waldorf school models, because it focuses on helping develop students into contributing members of society. Moreover, Waldorf school emphasizes the importance of giving students a variety of learning opportunities through creative thinking, emotional intelligence, physical vitality and a responsibility to nature, work and society. We are the stewards of the earth and I think this can be taught to students when we give them the space and exposure to appreciate the beauty of the world we have been given. My classroom isn’t limited to the four walls inside, it includes a large outdoor space with lots of mature trees and wooden structures to play on.
As an educator my main purpose is to help prepare students for life, not just on this earth but for heaven. “Charity without faith is not real, nor is faith without charity real, and neither charity nor faith is real without works. But in works they become real, and a reality such as the usefulness of the works.” (Apocalypse Revealed 875) This means that as educators it is not enough to just teach students knowledge, we also must teach them how to apply that knowledge in their life and serve a use. If we teach students in a way that they choose to apply the knowledge in their life, the knowledge we share with them will stick with them.