I have been fortunate because all but one of my classrooms during my long career have had windows. I spent only two years in an interior classroom that had no windows, and those were the most depressing years of my career – for other reasons. The lack of windows had nothing to do with how I felt.
At least I don’t think they did.
On most days in the classroom I have occupied now for eight years, two large windows fill my classroom with glorious sunlight. For a couple of hours during the day, the sunshine streaming in is so bright and so hot that we love it, except for the students who sit in front of the windows and have to shield their eyes from the sun and endure the heat. Much to my chagrin, these students usually lower the blinds. It’s a rational and perfectly understandable decision, just not one I like. I can’t really blame them.
When I open the new semester on Tuesday, however, I’m going to reserve the seats right in front of the window for the sun lovers and hope they will leave the blinds open so we can all enjoy the sunlight.
I’m always perplexed by teachers who lower their window blinds and turn off part of the classroom lights. Some even turn off all of the florescent lights and plug in a lamp to create a peaceful ambiance. I used to visit an elementary school where most of the kindergarten and first grade teachers turned down the lights, apparently thinking the lower lights might calm students. Some of these classrooms were so dark, however, that I would have trouble reading and writing in the classroom.
I like the light!
I want the sunshine to brighten my room and make me momentarily wonder if it’s June instead of January.
Last semester one of my students wrote a research paper about the effect that sunshine has on individuals. Within the paper, she highlighted several studies that showed that students in classrooms where there is greater natural light from windows and skylights actually achieve more than students in classrooms without windows. I can’t remember the student’s sources, but here is a link to one study I found online.
I don’t think one study proves that sunshine actually increases learning. I do know, however, that on days when the sun shines brightly into my classroom, students are happier and more engaged in classroom activities. On cloudy and rainy days, we all want to take naps.
So, I’m telling the sun lovers to keep the blinds open and let the sunshine in!
If we all become a little smarter because of the sunshine, that’s an added bonus!