Friday, September 3, 2010

Sharing Space with Teachers

If you grew up with a sibling and had to share a bedroom with them, you know how challenging it can be to share space. There is something about having your “own” space—where you are 100% in charge and the decisions about what goes where are yours, and yours alone. For years, classroom teachers have had the opportunity to create a unique environment within four walls that reflects a personal view of the world. When after-school folks share this space, it is as if you are a guest, and need to practice the etiquette of a “good guest”.

So here are some tips for being a “good guest”.

Show up when you say you will. No one likes it when you come early. It can interrupt the flow of what they are doing. So, if the plan is for you to arrive at the classroom 40 minutes after the beginning of program, then stick with that. This is part of understanding how important that time is for the teacher.

Be courteous to the teacher who is hosting you. Before you begin to share the space, talk with the teacher. Find out how they would like for you to work inside the room. Be sure you ask about the use of the white boards, where students should hang backpacks, whether or not chairs should be left up or down for cleaning and where the trash can is to be at the end of the day.
Be honest and open. If something happens during the after-school program that in anyway violates the classroom space (broken chair or pencil sharpener, spilled glue, a torn book or bulletin board) leave a note and offer to repair or replace. It is what you would expect if the situation were reversed. Too often we hope that no one will notice if we don’t say anything. Needless to say, avoidance doesn’t work. Let you “roommate” know immediately.

Be willing to be flexible and adaptive. The space that you share is designed to accommodate the school day learning. You are sharing the space with your host, so remain conscious of the preferences and patterns that they have. Be clear with the teacher so you know exactly what they expect of you.

Keep the space neat and tidy. Take pride in sharing the space well, and leaving it each day, better than you found it. Even when you are in a hurry at the end of the day, take the time to leave the space ready to house the students the next day.

Don’t make assumptions. This is easy to do—we think we understand and how folks want things, especially if you have had an opportunity to work with a teacher in a different setting. Check things out with them to be sure that you really ARE on the same page. Offer to share the responsibility for the maintenance of the classroom space.

If you will follow these simple tips, and remember that you must treat others in the same way that you would like to be treated, will help build a solid relationship with the teacher you share space with.

It’s challenging to share space with others. If you are challenged with this, go to our website, and link to Troubleshooting and share your challenge and ask for support. We’ll get back to you within 72 hours.

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