Why Sharing a Classroom Might Be Better Than You Thought…. and 5 Ways to Make it Work

Why Sharing a Classroom Might Be Better Than You Thought.... and 5 Ways to Make It WorkLet’s face it, given the choice, we’d all prefer to have our own space. But consider this…. maybe sharing a classroom isn’t so bad after all.

I used to dream of having my own classroom… complete with storage for supplies and a sink for clean up. A place I could call my own and make my own decisions about. A teaching space where I could leave things set up, knowing the room would be exactly how I left it when I returned.

Over the years, I’ve taught Art in public and private school settings, charter schools and homeschool co-ops, summer camps and afterschool programs, for ages kindergarten through adult. Yet I’ve never had that elusive fully-equipped classroom I could call my own.

And I’ve decided that’s really okay…. and maybe even a good thing!

When you share a classroom, you have a genuine “stakeholder” who probably cares as much about the space as you do. While you will need to forfeit having total control, two heads are still almost always better than one.

Using a shared space also creates physical limitations and parameters within which all your decisions about your classroom and your teaching are made. It may be human nature to push back against limitations placed on us, but just as giving parameters in assignments benefits our students, parameters can benefit us as teachers, too.

So if you find yourself sharing a teaching space, here’s how you can make it work for you instead of against you:

  1. Have a positive attitude. Rather than assuming that sharing a classroom is going to be a problem, expect the best! Lean into it with a great attitude and always be looking for the good in it.
  2. Reach out to the other teacher (or teachers!), realizing that they, too, would probably prefer to have their own space. Ask what would make the space work better for them. Offer to help!
  3. Communicate early and often! If an issue pops up, address it before tension builds and it becomes a bigger deal. Leave a note or text a compliment when you see something positive from the other teacher’s class, so you’re not only communicating when there’s a problem. Leave an occasional treat or small gift, just for fun.
  4. Problem solve together. Brainstorm ideas. Share what you’re thinking about a particular issue and ask, “What ideas do you have?” Let the other teacher know you’re in this together.
  5. Be grateful that your room is getting so much use, because that means more kids are getting to do art! Remind yourself that having a classroom of any kind means you have a J-O-B, so be grateful for that, too! There’s no situation that can’t be improved by gratitude.
Keep in mind that if you had your own classroom, there would be problems associated with that, too. Life is full of compromises, and sharing a classroom is just one of many. But it doesn’t have to be a bad thing if you’re determined to make the best of it. And remember, your students are watching…. your example of being a “good neighbor” and sharing something as important to you as your teaching space can affect student attitudes toward things they have to share, as well!

One Response to Why Sharing a Classroom Might Be Better Than You Thought…. and 5 Ways to Make it Work

  1. SMES School July 24, 2017 at 5:41 am #

    Good blog! I’d like to read more about this. Please share other blogs in the same context (if you have any) :)