Grand designs

27th April 2007 at 01:00
When you get your first classroom, you'll fantasise about it being well equipped and stylish. But, as Yasmin Evans points out, the reality can be a different story.

My own classroom. After being a squatter for all three teaching placements during my PGCE year, the most exciting thing, by far, is getting my own room and my own desk.

I immediately had visions of colour co-ordinated boxes containing all manner of stationery and even fresh flowers. The possibility of a fish bowl even crossed my mind as a therapeutic accessory to the learning paradise I was about to create (but I quickly dismissed it when I brought secondary-aged children into the equation). My classroom would be a haven for learners, proudly displaying vast quantities of pupils' work on its brightly-coloured walls to motivate and inspire the youth of today.

I had computers in there too. Not just a couple, but 14, flat-screened, flash looking things, all with internet access, plus two printers - one colour. I was beside myself. I could use technology in all of my lessons, enabling children to access copious amounts of information, thus making them more responsible for their own learning.

Some weeks into the first half term, I realised computers were high maintenance and only useful if pupils had one each - they don't like having to share, or even sitting that close to each other. Using computers in my room seemed to be the catalyst for many lessons being turned upside down, with pupils fighting over who holds the mouse and even in which hand.

In addition to this, "children breaking things" became my all-time nemesis.

A sweeping generalisation, I must admit, but they will stick a pen into every available hole in a computer tower, pull keys off and remove mouse balls for pure entertainment. Then they moan when they are all broken, as if I spend my lunchtimes demolishing them for my own amusement.

Nine months after acquiring my classroom, it does look beautiful. Elaborate displays cover every wall; including one with carefully cut out leaves, netting and camouflage. The work on my walls is of a high standard. The computers are watched continuously but I still attempt to use them in lessons when it is a special occasion and the children are well supervised.

And my desk is lovely, all books in colour co-ordinated boxes and better stocked than WHSmith

Yasmin Evans is a newly-qualified teacher in Manchester

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