Posted in general education, more seeds, special education

Should You Cover Your Classroom Windows? Pros and Cons

To Cover or Not to Cover… That IS the Question

I am loving all the Facebook posts by new teachers who are spending the days before their first day of school, decorating their new classrooms.

I remember the excitement… the sleepless nights… I remember how I got my (then) little sons involved in taping down nametags, labeling notebooks. Even my niece spent time working on my bulletin boards.

When my position was transferred from the basement of a synagogue to a modern office style building, one of the first things I noticed about my new classroom was the bank of amazing, huge, bright windows that ran the entire length of the classroom. There was a perfect windowsill the length of the room – not a radiator, or something else that couldn’t be used as a shelf. AND the window faced out into a sea of greenness: a woodlot, with a stream, and a field beyond. I was in heaven.
window coverings
Great windows allow the outside, in, so students can be nature observers from the comfort of their own desks. {Image Credit: (c) 2014, Kim M. Bennett}

Fast forward to the present, with a lot in the news about safety, in schools and other public settings. Those beautiful windows don’t open. At all. And there is only one way in and out of the room. Add the fact that the windows run the length of the wall, which means that there’s no “blind spot” for students to stay out of view from the outside.

I’m thinking hard about what to do this year with those windows. Here are the pros and cons of covering/not covering my windows.
window coverings
Sunny, uncovered windows are a blessing to some – and a distraction to others. My kitty prefers the sunny side of the street. {Image Credit: (c) 2019, Kim M. Bennett}

Let the Sun Shine In! Don’t Cover Them…

As quick as I can write them, here are ten reasons I’d want to leave my windows uncovered:

  1. Natural light is free – overhead light is not;
  2. Natural sunlight tickles your brain in a way that man-made lights never will – a plus when you’re working with kids who have troubles with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues;
  3. The abundant light enables us to have an extensive collection of houseplants on the windowsill – the kids enjoy taking care of them;
  4. I personally feel better when I can see sunlight and green things out the window;
  5. One of my kids, when he’s overwhelmed, stares out the window at the solar panels in the distance (true fact);
  6. I don’t want to spend money and time putting up curtains;
  7. Some of my kids will pull the curtains down if they get upset;
  8. We can watch the neighborhood bobcat, deer, rabbits and other wildlife through our window;
  9. Science has shown that being around greenery and nature makes kids feel, and do, better in school;
  10. We can conduct nature studies from the window, when the weather (or the kids’ behavior) is not conducive to going outside;
  11. (a bonus) The fire marshal sometimes has rules about hanging things in classrooms. I don’t know those rules.

This is just my brainstorm – are there things you might add to the list? (I have already thought of three more…)
window coverings
Science has shown that being able to view greenery has a positive effect on human beings, especially children. {Image Credit: (c) 2018, Kim M. Bennett}

Put a Covering Over Those Jokers…

Okay, so now for the cons of those uncovered panes of beautiful-ness:

  1. There’s sometimes sun glare on the Promethean board, especially when we’re watching a video;
  2. Some districts have safety rules about when and why to cover the windows, to prevent people from seeing into the classroom from the outside;
  3. Kids seated next to the window sometimes roast in the sun;
  4. Some students have a hard time focusing if it’s snowing/raining/sunny/cloudy/ etcetera, and they can see it through the window;
  5. When a student is “out of program,” the students can see through the window;
  6. Some students think it will look more “homey” with curtains;
  7. The computer hook-ups are along that wall – so students at the computers are also facing the open windows, which sometimes causes eye strain;
  8. If my classroom were on the other side of the building, students could see the parking lot, basketball court, police cars/ambulances (an occasional occurrence at our school), visiting parents… potentially causing a disruption;
  9. Likewise, students would focus on which buses were there at the end of the day;
  10. The curtains would break up the expanse of office-white wall that we can’t paint.

What are some reasons YOU might cover the windows?
window coverings
Windows allow people to see the outside – but also allow people on the outside to look in. {Image Credit: (c) 2017, Kim M. Bennett}

The Verdict on Window Coverings… at Least for This Year

I have to be honest: it was hard for me to come up with ten reasons to put up curtains or other window coverings. I also must admit that, for the 20 years my husband and I have been married, we’ve been on opposite sides of the window covering argument (think “Everybody – look at me!” vs “blind cave dweller”). So I know I’m probably projecting a lot of my own needs onto this decision. Oh, well – I’m human.

Last summer, I put up colorful valances, and my ed assistant (who is the decal queen), put up cute decals with affirmations that she bought at the dollar store (so if kids pick them off, it’s not a big deal). We filled the windowsill with plants. We enjoyed our bobcat friend (whom my colleague is trying to videotape with a motion-sensitive camera she’s installed in the woods).

I DO think I’ll see if I can get some translucent shades installed so that we can get better optics on our Promethean board. But that sounds expensive to me, so I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it. And I’m going to collect data to back up my request.

I COULD put up another set of tension rods and hang sheers. That’s an option. But I really DO like the green view. Here you can see it…
window coverings
The amazingly green view out of my classroom window – and the cute window treatments we installed last summer. {Image Credit (c) 2018, Kim M. Bennett}

Your Windows…

What did you do with your windows this year?

{This blog is featured in Top 100 Special Education Blogs}


Mom of four, Nana to seven, homeschooler, special educator, and lover of all good things... striving to do His work every day.

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