We talk about living in the greatest place on Earth. I agree, best country best area all of that, but I never realized just how much geography of a school effects students experience and teachers sense of belonging and value.
Most schools in our area are retrofitted renovated shells of schools built in the hay-day of the industrial era. They are giant boxes or a conglomerate of boxes fused together and partitioned into classrooms. Where you get to live in those boxes is often determined by tradition, legacy and equipment needs. You could spend 20 years in the same classroom, or like me bounce from place to place every year. I am not sure which is better or worse. I have occupied spaces in nearly every nook and cranny of this place. I have attempted to carve out space that felt like mine but it never really is. I don't know that space should be territorial, but its nice to have a place to store your resources, and a place to look after. Spaces often get neglected when they are transient spaces for teacher and students. If no one "owns" the place then it becomes unimportant and neglected. It is someone else's responsibility.
The whereabouts of a space is just as crucial, portables and attached buildings as well as classrooms that are "out of the way" breed inequality. They stop the flow of people, they isolate students and teachers a like. Teachers are looking for a home no less than any student. We are constantly trying to increase attachment because there is no doubt that attachment has an enormous effect on our young people. Sometimes creating that attachment is really difficult based simply on geography. If a teacher is responsible for a space and has claimed "ownership" of it they are somewhat tethered to that space by the mere fact that they feel responsible. I think they should feel responsible I think they should feel pride in the place they spend their time with students. That attitude towards a space transfers to students and promotes a healthy learning environment. If that space is out of the way or not in the general flow of people what happens to the teacher and to the students who are attached to that teacher, or the students who would really benefit from attachment with that individual but don't know they exist because of geography?
There is a saying around the Kootenays that "there is no hope past Hope" our community feels out of the flow of things in our province, our municipalities are banding together to make our voices heard and to create flow in our area. Kudos to those that are solving the problem! How do we transfer that kind of common goal to a school? It just a set of classrooms right? We all teach different subjects. We all have different strengths and weakness, not everyone likes everyone else, nor should they have to, but there has to be a way to make a conglomeration of boxes feel more inclusive and healthy.
I don't have an answer for this. Sometimes 25 stairs really is a geographical mountain to climb. Sometimes its just 4 stairs, and sometimes its just windows. There are so many things that create geographical barriers in a school. We need to find a way to make teachers and students a like feel more included and less marginalized by geography.