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~Amy~ ~Amy~ is offline
 
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Open Space Classrooms??
Old 07-19-2006, 06:47 PM
 
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This will be my first year teaching, and I was just offered a temporary position in a 2nd grade classroom. However, I went to visit the school today, and it is an open space school. This means there are no walls at all between the classrooms!!! I am just overwhelmed with how in the world I can make it in this enviornment. Has anyone heard or worked in an open space school?? This is very scary to me...there are no walls at it...its just you a few bookshelfs...the kids desks...and everywhere you look you can see the other teachers and their classes. It just seems so distracting..and I'm sure cooperative learning will be almost impossible. What would you do in this situation??


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Oh my...
Old 07-19-2006, 06:59 PM
 
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What you have described is exactly what my yearly nightmares are each summer before school begins.

That being said, I do have an older friend who taught many years in CA in this atmosphere. She was just telling me last week that it was just the norm for the kids and even though she had to work hard to keep their attention, she did so with a lot of floor activities with the children sitting close to her.

I conduct a lot of my 2nd grade instruction with the children on the floor.

Will you have a freestanding chalkboard? What about a projector? And posters??? Sheesh, I think you will save a lot of $$ without having walls to purchase stuff to hang on them--that is one positive thing!

By the way--congrats on the job. I'm sure you will rise to the occasion and make your space all yours and will do well with your students!
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It does seem like a nightmare....
Old 07-19-2006, 07:12 PM
 
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It is a nightmare for me haha! The only thing I will have is free standing chalkboard, 3 computers, a work table (no teacher's desk), and the student's desk. Not much room or storage space at all. No walls at all...so I have no idea how you would do a word wall etc... Yes, it would save a lot of money I guess. I am just so close to the other teachers, and I am worried about being to loud etc..or the being judged by the other teachers on how I do things. I just really think as a first year teacher I need at least a semi enclosed space to try to find myself as a teacher. Without worring with am I to loud, I wonder if what other people think about my teaching style etc...I am happy to have a job, but I just feel this situation might work better if I have actually had a few years teaching experience. Ahh...I am really letting this get me down and depressed, and I was so excited about my first year.
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It's not so bad...
Old 07-19-2006, 08:10 PM
 
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I've been in an open classroom for many years now. It doesn't sound like mine is as open as yours. The first time I saw it I couldn't imagine how it would work and was very worried about it. Now, I can't imagine going back to a closed room. The teacher across from me has become a very good friend and we feed off each other. We get good ideas from each other and our classes like our "bantering" back and forth at some points during the day. We both teach language arts and it makes it nice to plan together. We have our desks together in between the two rooms. Our math/science partners are on the other side of us and there is a small wall separating our rooms. It does tend to get noisy sometimes, but we hold up a white flag to signal to the other one. Just try to keep an open mind and really work on getting to know the teachers around you. My partner and I are so opposite in our personalities but we really do work well together. Good luck.
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Pods
Old 07-20-2006, 03:45 AM
 
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As Kristine mentioned, keep an open mind and work on getting to know the other teachers. As a first year teacher this could be a wonderful opportunity!

My previous school had "Pods" There were 4 classrooms in each pod.4 classes-no dividing walls. Pre-k - 5
I taught third, so most of the children had already been in pods since pre-k.

The children did not become distracted as the 4 of us planned accordingly together. Actually it was lots of fun! We would do a lot of fun things together. You become really close with those other teachers. Some teachers put up bookshelves back to back as room dividers. We had blasts come party time! Think positive, and good luck!


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curtains?
Old 07-20-2006, 05:06 AM
 
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hi,
I teach in a semi open school. I have a classroom similiar to a previous post about being in a pod of 4. I am not sure on your school policies but at my school, I have been putting up curtains as dividers. I don't know if this would be an option for you or not. I have four different entry ways and so I have bought cheap sheets at Walmart to hang in those openings. It is amazing to me how it makes my mind think that I have privacy. If you were allowed to hang sheets anywhere you could use that as a word wall.(maybe)
My school used to be an open school and the older teachers talked about how you could see what the person on the side of the building was doing. I really think that would be wierd. But they also talked about how they used filing cabinets and bookcases to set boundaries in between their rooms.
Believe it or not your get used to the noises around you and learn to block them out. The hardest days for me are when there is a substitute because I have to get used to a new voice.
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science display boards
Old 07-20-2006, 07:42 AM
 
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I use those science fair tri-folds for more wall space. I wonder if you had extra tables or desks, if you could almost create a little wall for youself with a word wall and other stuff?
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Old 07-20-2006, 07:46 AM
 
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I had to work in one for a year too. It was awful. The noise and distractions are very hard to work with. They should have told you it was open before they hired you.
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Old 07-20-2006, 08:30 AM
 
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You said it was a temporary job so why not take it and see if you like it or not. You will gain some teaching experience and if you don't like it the regular classroom will be that much nicer! I agree with the other posters I would make a corner for myself somewhere with a shower curtain, one of those fold-out dressing room things ( sorry don't know what they are called) or with some well-placed book shelves. I can't imagine not having a teacher's desk though!!! Not that you get to sit in them much anyway. Not sure how temporary it is but it will get your feet wet and having principals, parents, and admin watch you when you get a regular classroom will be a breeze! Good luck whatever you decide.
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Old 07-20-2006, 09:07 AM
 
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My first year teaching (Grade 2 as well) was in an open area school. I worked there for three years. The teachers worked together well (had to) by planning together, timing our noisier events carefully, giving the instruction part of the lesson close together (ie on a carpet) showing movies together etc. We even shared children for some activities, like reading and math centres. Most of the children totally ignored the noise from other areas, though I can see it would pose a problem for ADD kids. Likely the kids in your school have worked in open areas since K so they'll be used to it. It makes for very flexible groupings, you can get more area for a particular activity if you need it, and you can learn, and steal ideas, from others very easily.

Yes, you do have to be creative to make your boundaries, by the way you set up furniture, but you might like it very much. It was challenging at times, but it certainly was not ever a nightmare. Since it fosters co operation and sharing between teachers as well as students, it can be a great way to start your teaching career. Since then, even in closed classrooms, I have to work with my door open, I love to find ways to work together with the others in my wing, I use the space in my classroom and my hallways well, and I have no problem with others listening in on my lessons, as I was so used to it. Look at it as a great opportunity to develop communication skills, co-operation, flexibilityand confidence.


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Old 07-20-2006, 11:16 AM
 
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I cant even imagine!!! AHHHHH, I will have nightmares tonight. Good Luck and tell us how its going!
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my first year
Old 07-20-2006, 01:50 PM
 
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Take your possibly bad situation and make some lemonade. That's what I did. I wasn't thrilled when I found out that my first year would be in an open space building. However, I decided that if I could teach in that situation, I could teach anywhere. (It's kinda like driving a stick...if you can drive it, you can drive any car.)

With that said, it takes a few weeks to get used to. I was so nervous that the teacher next to me would be able to hear every word and criticize my teaching. However, because you are so close to that teacher, you become quick teaching buddies. You can watch her class while she goes to the bathroom and you can also holler at her during your planning period to ask if she has a copy of that poem you heard the other day.

My only complaint is that I couldn't be as silly with the kids as I normally am. Because whenever I get silly, they get louder. But if you want to be silly and loud, go outside and teach a lesson. That's what I did and it worked like a charm.

It will be okay and you will get used to it. God Bless.
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Thanks
Old 07-20-2006, 03:17 PM
 
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Thanks for your suggestions guys! It is really helping me, plus making me feel not so alone. Do you think as a first year teacher this would be a good choice, or would you just wait it out and sub until you could get a regular classroom?? I really want to teach, and all summer I've been both excited and anxious. However, once seeing the open classroom school, I actually lost all the happy/excited feelings I had and they have gone straight to just horror. So I'm just lost......
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Go for it!
Old 07-20-2006, 06:41 PM
 
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You are a teacher...go for it for the children.
You will have many different rooms etc. some good, some well...Focus on the children and you will be fine.
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Agree with Gardenut
Old 07-21-2006, 09:54 AM
 
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Go for it. I think you will be amazed at how quickly you forget what is going on around you once you get into actually teaching your class. I subbed in a school with open classrooms and the first time I was so scared. I quickly forgot about the other classes around me. Plan with the other teachers as some of the others have suggested. You will also learn a lot from them. I would love to be able to hear and see what goes on in other rooms around me - I love to learn from my peers and you are in a perfect situation to be able to do that.
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I have been there
Old 07-21-2006, 04:26 PM
 
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Amy-

I have taught for 3 years in an open concept building. You will be amazed at how well it actually works. Just be yourself and don't think about it. It may be intimidating at first but you will get used to it quickly. You will also be amazed at how the students are not affected by the openness of the school. I met my closest friends while teaching in the open-concept classroom; you become very close knit.

I also learned great classroom management skills! Good Luck. Let me know if you need any help or ideas. I taught 2nd grade.
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Try it out
Old 07-21-2006, 05:55 PM
 
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Personally, before I had my permanent position, I was willing ot do anything to get my foot in the door. I'd definatetly give it a try. How long will you be there???
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I'm going to go for it!
Old 07-21-2006, 09:15 PM
 
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I have to admit I'm scared to death! But I was glad to realize after posting here I'm not alone. I was convinced my school district had to be the only one in the United States that still operates a school like this. It is going to take a lot getting used too...plus I won't know until after the first month of school if its even going to be permanent. You're right though...I want to be a teacher...I'm doing it for the kids...so I've gotta at least try. I think it may be a little easier if it was my very first year. I'm sure I'll posting a lot more questions and concerns....I hope you guys won't mind. I think if I wouldn't have found this site I might have passed up working at the school....but I'm going to go for it!!
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Yay Amy
Old 07-22-2006, 05:01 AM
 
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That's the spirit Amy!!!
Keep your mind open~~Meet those other teachers...you will have a great year!
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Go for it!
Old 07-22-2006, 11:58 AM
 
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I'm the best of friends with the teacher in the room next door. I do have one wall between our rooms, but we still hear everything. Don't let it bother you! Honestly, I don't think I could ever go back to a closed classroom. It would be tough to adjust for me!

Good luck to you! Please let us all know how things are going!
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Old 07-25-2006, 05:40 PM
 
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I just finished my first year of teaching in an open concept school. I LOVED it. I even had a nightmare the other night that I was in a classroom with walls. Yes, there are downfalls to being in an open environment...but I like the community it develops. I can walk through my school and see so many more people than I could if there were walls up. I think you will quickly forget that others hear you...I often was so wrapped up in my teaching/kids, that I rarely heard the class next store. Good luck!
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Old 07-27-2006, 07:51 PM
 
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I just moved to a new district and I took a (2nd grade) job without looking at the classrooms. It never occured to me that I wouldn't have my own space. I have taught for over five years and have always had my own room. I like closing my door and making my room my sanctuary...I don't know what to think now! I am trying to think positive and it does help to read that others like this concept. But I am with you about excitement turning to dread. Just know your not alone =).
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It has pros and cons
Old 07-27-2006, 08:07 PM
 
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There are some days where I love being in an open classroom and then some days it stinks. I think the times it bothers me most is when I want to something more fun, busy, or potentially noisy with my students and I have to check and see what the other teachers in the pod are doing. It really does have advantages though too. We do alot together and we plan together so we are all on the same page (to a certain degree). This year will be a little different because the teacher next to me was moved but the one coming in will be great so I am not too worried about it. The biggest downfall is worrying about your students getting loud and having to say something to them when you wouldn't really be worried about it if you had walls and a door.
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