Messages of Our Spaces

Scattered energy. Have you ever realized you’re in a scattered place with your thoughts, energy, and emotions?

Multiple times today I got out of my office chair to go do something, remembered something else I needed to do, circled my chair and sat back in it. Then, after I did that thing, I couldn’t remember what thing I had previously set out to do.

Have you ever looked for a pencil only to realize it’s behind your ear or looked for your sunglasses to find them on top of your head or looked for a box of cereal only to find it in the fridge?

These are usually indications that we have a lot going on. Around us in the world and also in our heads and hearts. It makes it difficult to perform at high level when we feel this way. It is also difficult to show up fully for others when we are feeling all over the place.

I recently enjoyed a weekend getaway with friends. When I got back on Sunday night, it felt like the work week was looming. The Sunday scaries took over. I didn’t feel prepared for the week. I had a bag to unpack, a house that I hadn’t cleaned, and no plan for meals for the week. Eek.

It’s now Wednesday and only today did I finally unpack that bag. It’s something that I told myself that I didn’t “have time to do” but every time I walked by that bag, the chaos of all the to-do’s this week weighed on me even heavier because of that bag sitting in the middle of the floor.

It’s amazing how our environment can have such a big impact on our thoughts and feelings. If the environment feels calm and orderly, I feel calm and orderly.

The spaces we work in on a daily basis can have a profound impact on our wellbeing. Our students are deeply impacted by their home and school environments as well.

From the colors we use the paint the walls, to the furniture we use in classrooms, to the posters on the walls, and the way we are greeted on a daily basis, all aspects of our environment are impacting us.

For example, I love sitting at round tables with others. It sends the message that we all have a rightful place at this table that is enhanced when the facilitator ensures equity of voice.

I also love having pictures of kids at the table when we talk about student “data.”I enjoy putting pictures of children that mean a lot to participants on their name tents. I also like to ask people to share about the children. It’s one small move that helps us remember that all human beings are more than a number. All kids have limitless, immeasurable potential.

I also enjoy providing little snacks and waters for the adults. It’s also fun to display table centerpieces. These little moves send the message that we care about people and their experience well beyond the work to be done for the meeting at hand.

Often, people show up to our meetings feeling scattered. Students too. Because life and work throws at lot at us. As Brene Brown has said, “Sometimes the bravest and most important thing we can do is just show up.” When people bravely make it to our spaces, let’s make sure to value and care for them with intentionality.

It would be interesting to do a walk through our schools as if we were seeing these spaces for the first time and to ask ourselves what messages our environment is sending to our students.

How are our children greet every day in school and by whom? What message does this send to kids?

What colors do we use to paint the walls of the school? What is hanging on our walls? What messages and feelings might the walls of our schools be giving students?

What type of furniture are we using in our classroom, and what message is our classroom configuration sending to students?

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