My learners are representative of the 81% of my district's students who come from low-income families; in addition, 35% are English Learners and 11.97% are served by the special education program. These students attend a school that is over 100 years old and has many issues with its infrastructure. Despite these issues, these extremely hard-working, diligent students deserve every opportunity to achieve their dreams. Indeed, the majority of my seniors are planning to attend college or a trade school and many are hopeful for a bright future. However, it would be inaccurate to say their futures are unequivocally bright.
"How am I ever going to graduate when I am placed in remedial English?!" is a common refrain I hear come spring, when seniors take placement tests.
Others are already resigned to living in poverty, and see post-grad training or education as an expense they cannot afford. My students have incredible potential; I want them to have access to a welcoming environment, as well as the tools and resources they need to accomplish their dreams.
Last summer, I renovated my classroom to incorporate research-based color psychology and design to promote student learning. I scoured yard sales, e-Bay, and FB Marketplace for dining sets, tables, and chairs and then refinished them with the help of some student volunteers. It was costly and extremely time-intensive, but the room looked lovely and set a welcoming, calm, engaging, and productive tone. The feedback was incredibly positive at the beginning of the year when the students were welcomed into this environment, and students have expressed how special they felt to know this space was created just for them in our rather dilapidated school. However, there were several chair fatalities this year, with 14 chairs (out of 42 -- the size of the biggest class) being completely destroyed. The students need heavier-duty chairs than what I acquired last year.
With these chairs as replacements, students will continue to benefit from the research-based benefits associated with flexible seating.
However, money is limited. Unless I can find replacements, I will need to bring back regular classroom seating/desks to accommodate all my students for the coming year.
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