There is a dispute going on in PPS over how to design the new high schools: whether full time high school teachers should each have their own classroom (resulting in one or more school periods without any students in the classroom) or whether each classroom should be shared among teachers and be fully used each period of the school day. Having each teacher with their own classroom would require PPS to build more classrooms (spend more funds) to build high schools with a given designed enrollment capacity. In that context, consider this suggestion for better schools from the article “Five Strategies American Teachers can Learn From Their Finnish Counterparts” by David Tow (here):
- Concede the classroom: For many American teachers, the classroom is their turf, filled by their posters, their supplies, their mementos. The American teacher owns their classroom. In Finland, most teachers migrate from class to class, and share a department office with their colleagues to encourage collaboration. Without a formal classroom, the ownership of the space becomes shared. When teachers and students come together, it is on neutral territory, where no one faction has to stand their ground, where they can more quickly get to the matter of learning. I encourage teachers to limit their belongings to bookshelves and closets. Let the students claim and decorate the rest. Unused white boards can be space for doodling and brainstorming. Half-filled classroom libraries can be stocked by students' favorite books. If the classroom belongs at least partially to them, students will care more deeply about it.