One thing I’ve learned upon completing my 200 level ed classes is the importance of environment when it comes to learning. Arrangement of desks, temperature, wall decor, etc–it all plays a roll in one’s success (or lack thereof). Another thing I learned is that becoming a teacher means committing to being a lifelong learner: not just from your students and the latest pedagogy articles, but from yourself. In order to teach, one must understand who he/she is as a learner. And that, in itself, is a collection of ever-changing facts; a constant process of discovery and revision.
A big part of my educational philosophy is that I believe, in the right setting, anyone can achieve greatness. While my professors and my peers craft the classroom setting for 2-4hrs of my day, 5 days a week, the rest is largely up to me. And I think I’ve finally figured out what works…
While last year I spent hours at my desk, this year I find it repugnant. Aesthetically, I love it. It’s full of with knick-knacks and mementos. The cork board is covered with motivation, reminders, and artwork. And it’s equipped with my favorite school supplies: index cards, mechanical pencils, notebooks, and a plethora of post-it notes. But even so, it feels too enclosed. I need kitchen tables and large desks; my ideas need leg room.
I need early mornings. I need to go to my Saturday meeting with a few hours of work already under my belt. This isn’t always something I pull off. More often than not I stay in bed too long, half asleep. I dawdle to get dressed and pack my bag. The sand in my hourglass of a schedule fills the bottom container until there’s really no point in trying to get anything done. But on days like today: I am better. I am early to bed, early to wise, productive, healthy, and happy. Nothing satisfies me more than scratching things off my to do list early in the morning, making the afternoon so much more peaceful. And most of all, I need coffee. This is the one constant in my life.
All of these facts about myself as a learner accumulate to one perfect setting: a morning trip to the coffee shop. To me, the coffee shop isn’t just a great place to get things done. It’s a hub of positive vibes emanating from steaming hot mugs and the denizens who choose to spend their Saturday mornings in pleasant conversations, with their noses in a book, or their hands racing across keyboards. It’s the hum of alt and indie rock, the clanking of spoons on coffee mugs, and the murmurs of conversation–it’s the soundtrack to an excellent Saturday morning. And just like that the large to do list I have to tackle doesn’t seem so bad. My work becomes associated with positive things.
This is what your workspace should do. It should be a space where you are both focussed and at ease. Productive and happy. All at once. And as I sip my caramel machiatto, polish off my sugar cookie, and prepare to finally hit the publish button, I wonder why I ever settle for anything less.