The Cardinal Chronicle

Classroom Spotlight: Ms. Duffy

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Lights, camera… learning? MHS English teacher Ms. Duffy takes a unique approach to classroom design.

Lights, camera… learning? MHS English teacher Ms. Duffy takes a unique approach to classroom design.

Janice Peng

Janice Peng

Lights, camera… learning? MHS English teacher Ms. Duffy takes a unique approach to classroom design.

Janice Peng

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With approximately 2,200 MHS students spending seven hours and 19 minutes of their day in school, teachers have taken it upon themselves to make those long hours seem a bit shorter with innovative classroom designs. English teacher Ms. Duffy is one of them.

Ms. Duffy teaches Honors English 9 and English 11 in Room 2015. The classroom is comfortably spacious with expansive windows that cast a soothing natural light over the students as they work. Movie posters and creative lighting methods add character to the room. “My goal is eventually to have a coffee shop feel,” Ms. Duffy said in an interview.

Dozens of movie posters decorate the walls of Room 2015

Fei Smith, a freshman, enrolled in Honors English 9 with Ms. Duffy, said that she feels comfortable and at ease in the classroom. “I like how we . . . have a lot of natural light,” Smith said. She also likes the room’s theme. Movie-inspired knickknacks and signs, along with a concessions stand of sorts, create a theater atmosphere. “It’s really interesting,” Smith remarked.

However, she does feel slightly miffed by the seat layout. The tables are spread out in a vague spiral shape that is not commonly found in other classrooms. This arrangement allows Ms. Duffy to walk around and listen to the students’ discussions. However, Smith wishes it was more organized.

What causes Room 2015 to look more like a theater than a classroom? A sign outside of the room announces the “showing” of English 11, the concessions stand offers goodies like pencils and worksheet handouts, and a poster hanging on the whiteboard reads: “Please Turn Off Your Mobile Phones…”

As it turns out, the poster is key to understanding the thinking behind the theater. Ms. Duffy explained, “Last year [the theme] was the 1980s, where cell phones didn’t exist. This one is ‘Welcome to the theater’ where you put away your cell phones.” She has found this classroom quirk to be an effective tool for keeping students focused.

The concession stand is a bonus. Ms. Duffy places handouts in this convenient location by the door so that students can pick them up as they walk in. The stand is also full of tissues, extra pencils, and highlighters.

“I am a huge germaphobe,” Ms. Duffy admitted. The concession stand is her way of keeping her supplies away from students’ questionably clean hands.

When asked what her favorite part of the room was, Ms. Duffy didn’t limit herself to just one element. She pointed out the hundreds of books, organized by genre, the concessions stand with its endlessly helpful paraphernalia, and the holiday lights strung cheerfully along the eastern wall. All of these details help create a unique, captivating and exciting classroom.

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Middleton High School | 2100 Bristol Street, Middleton, Wisconsin
Classroom Spotlight: Ms. Duffy