Friday, October 7, 2011

My View Has a Backhoe

The MSBA and MHS are working together to build a new town high school.  The site is behind the existing building, and right outside my classrooms.  We have a never ending view of the deforestation, digging, and blasting.  Due to the nature of my students, I was concerned that the construction would be a continuous distraction.  They were unhappy to see all the trees go down, but have since dismissed all the commotion as par for the course. 

Having the opportunity to sit with the architects and administration to design the physical setup of our new program area was one of the most exciting opportunities I've had here at MHS.  After years of running alternative education programs in less-than rooms and areas, I was thrilled to have the chance to communicate where the walls needed to be, how the time-out space should be structured, and what appliances went where. 

It is easy to underestimate the importance of physical space in the classroom. My program can only have at most 10 students, but we have double the space of most 25 pupil classes.  Due to the volatile nature of my students, having space to spread out is a necessary safety component.  Restraints are not common, in fact, in my two years at MHS they have not been necessary, but allowing a student to de-escalate away from her peers helps to keep things safe.

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