The benefits of a shared space

Shared spaces inside classrooms have many benefits, ranging from the obvious: practicing the art of sharing and caring, and extending to those not so obvious, but equally benefited, such as creating a positive classroom atmosphere making classroom management a much easier task.

Each year, and this year is now 17 years running, I have set my classroom up with a shared area of basic classroom needs, ranging from pencils and erasers to rulers and colors. There are always enough pencils, one per students, but specifically never enough of anything else – hence the need for sharing. Anything more specific is kept in a closed (not locked) cupboard, still accessible to students so that they can take it independently, but has its own space.

The reasons why:

  1. Physical health benefit: student gets up and walks to the area whenever they need it. They are not always sitting down at the table. The material table is located specifically away from any working area.
  2. Another physical benefit: student needs to walk around the classroom, learning to respect the areas of their classmates, practicing body control by avoiding bumping into objects.
  3. Social benefit: student learns to share with others.
  4. Another social benefit: student learns to communicate with others, asking please and saying thank you.
  5. Students build this shared space together, adding decorative touches and learning the art of organizing.
  6. Since the materials are everybody’s, each student has an inclination to take care of this area, keeping it clean and tidy, after all, it is also theirs.
  7. Student takes more care that things are well taken care of, reporting any accidental breakage and taking steps to solve a problem.
  8. Student learn responsibility, the need to return the materials to their designated spot.
  9. Student is allowed to be more independent, they do not rely on the teacher.
  10. Student is allowed to be more creative – they get to choose the materials they can work with on a specific project BUT
  11. Their creativity is NOT determined by the quality or quantity of materials they bring from home (a child has little influence over this, especially at a young age) – hence why materials are always available to them.

Of course, for many of us, and I include myself here, who were brought up in an education system where students were expected to bring in their pencil boxes, stuffed with the latest and coolest materials, it may be difficult to try to accept the above as positives and leave it at that. There are of course, benefits to bringing in ones pencil box. One might argue that indeed it is the act of not forgetting that builds responsibility. However, look up at the list above and see it as a whole, it is all those ten things above (and maybe more that I may have missed) that happen together, creating a positive atmosphere, conducive to learning and positive behavior. Give it a try!

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