Whenever I asked friends of mine who are teachers for advice, they almost always give the same recommendation: “Get your own room!” This is a strange piece of advice because I can’t really control the room assignments. I have, however, come to learn why they say this. During my first year of teaching, I had one class each in rooms 120, 123, 206, 302, and 304. I also had Mac Lab Duty and Cafeteria Duty. And, my desk was situated in room 113. Admittedly, by March of that year, all of my classes were relocated to room 110, as well as my desk. During my second year of teaching, I had classes in rooms 110, 113, and 206, as well as an SDL in room 202 and Media Center Duty. Essentially, during my first two years, I have moved around quite a bit. Rarely did I ever spend two consecutive class periods in one space. Until I spent some time moving this frequently, I did not understand the significance of one’s own classroom.
Moving rooms is not a detriment to teaching. It is, however, an extra piece to consider while planning for each day and week. I could not set up a lesson several periods in advance and leave it in place, as other teachers would be using the room in the intervening time. I could not leave notes on the board for the next class. And, I always had to make sure that I had every piece of material with me for whatever class I was teaching next. Essentially, switching rooms taught me to be highly prepared and highly organized.
As my third year of teaching begins, I am scheduled to have all of my classes in room 110. This does remove some of the burden of carrying many items with me during the course of a school day. However, due to my first two years of moving, I have established many sound organizational practices that I can maintain even in my own (still shared with other colleagues) space. I have boxes for all of my student work, so that I can keep their papers organized into folders. This way, at any point, for any reason, students can check their grades. I have class folders in which I keep graded papers that need to be returned. I keep a stack of large paper clips for handouts that I need to give to each class. Using these clips, the papers can easily be transported. I also use these clips to keep student papers together. When I receive student papers, I immediately make check marks to keep track of whose papers I have received. Moving rooms for two years has taught me all of these strategies to remain organized and sane. Now that I will not be changing rooms, I still plan to employ these practices, as I find that, in general, they make my teaching life easier and more organized.