Your students are about to arrive in a few days. You have your lesson plans set. But is your room ready to go?
Here are a few tips to creating a safe, welcoming, and learning-focused classroom environment.
Think of Safety and Comfort
Under what conditions will your students do their best learning? Try to ensure that the lighting, seating, and temperature are all comfortable for students. This could mean creating some lighter and darker areas based on student preference. Look around and make sure that there are no hazards and obstacles around the room. Are the seats arranged in a way that everyone can easily see the board? Can you and your students walk around the room easily?
It is also helpful to think about your room in terms of spaces. Where will the library go? Is there an area that is conducive for learning stations? In which spaces is your technology being integrated? Is there a reading nook? A quiet space for students who need to work alone without distractions?
Ensure that Decorations Support Learning
Be strategic about what kind of posters and decorations you put up. Students will be looking at posters every school day, so make sure that they deliver the kind of messages you want to communicate. Quotes about character can help build social emotional intelligence. Make sure that posters are age-appropriate (avoid cutesiness in middle school and high school classrooms) and engaging. Both bare walls and overly-cluttered walls are extremes to avoid: find a healthy balance in your decorations.
Be sure to leave plenty of room to display student work. By putting up student work, you are indicating to students that their thinking creativity are worthy of admiration. Focus on putting up work that displays critical thinking and innovation rather than tests or worksheets.
Creating a “teacher corner” will help your students build a relationship with you. If you create a teacher corner with items meaningful to you, the students will enjoy getting a glimpse into your life and seeing if they share any similarities. Ideas of items to include are photos of your family and pets, banners from your college, pictures of bands or sports teams you enjoy, art that you like, and quotes that inspire you. Remember to keep all items appropriate for school.
Think About Your Room Configuration
Arrange desks with learning in mind. Don’t feel locked into having all of your desks in rows one behind the next like a traditional classroom. If you intend to do a lot of group work, think about arranging desks into clusters. If you create a horseshoe shape out of the desks, all of the students are in the front row. One of the nice things about classroom furniture is that it’s easily movable, and different configurations can be set up for different activities. Experiment and see what kind of set-up works best for you for different learning activities.
Organization and Cleanliness
In order to keep your room ready for learning, it is important to maintain an organized space. Find a home for everything, and make sure it gets returned there. Come up with a system for where to place collected papers and assignments. Keep food, gum, and drinks other than water out of your classroom. Have a supply of paper towels and cleaning wipes on-hand to deal with germs and messes. Clean spaces allow for optimal learning
Enlist the children in helping you keep your room clean. Come up with a routine for the end of the block and end of the day to ensure that trash and clutter are discarded appropriately and to ensure that all books, supplies, and furniture go where they belong.
What other tips and techniques have you heard for getting your classroom ready? Let us know in the comments.