One of the wonderful things about teaching is that you get a fresh start every year. New students. New crayons. A chance to start over.
With that new start, I always think about how I want things in my classroom to be better than they were the year before. What to get rid of, and what to bring into my classroom occupy a significant part of my summer thinking.
This year is no different. About a year and a half ago, I got rid of the desks in my classroom to make way for tables. I like it far better. Other physical changes this year include:
- a Smartboard that is actually mounted at a height that is appropriate for my students –This will mean many more opportunities for the students to use it independently. It is also on one side of the classroom instead of the middle, so that using it will not distract everyone else in the room.
- a couch (well, a love seat)–I have wanted a cozy place for students to curl up to read or work for a long time.
- a coffee table–Some children can concentrate so much better when they can sit on their knees instead of uncomfortable chairs.
- a new area carpet– Students love to be able to work on the floor.
As part of my annual re-do, I have been reading and thinking about the design of my classroom and that the design not only reflects my thinking about learning, but can affect that learning as well. Other, more learned people than me, have talked about the importance of design, and their ideas are always in the back of my mind. Functionality has to balance with appearance. Two books by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser have also helped me think about my classroom setup.
As part of my process, I have been making a mental list of the things that I value, as these are the things that I want my classroom to reflect.
- I want students to be as independent as possible (given that they are five and six years old).
- I want them to learn how to take responsibility for their own learning.
- I want to provide a classroom that is a comfortable setting for different learning styles.
- I want them to learn from each other and from people outside of our classroom and to realize that this is how we all learn.
There are other things that are flitting around in my mind, but that is a starting place. With these ideas in mind, I have created a paper model of my classroom, and have been moving things around trying to make everything work the way I want it to. (My classroom is still being cleaned, so I can’t actually move the real things.) So far I have tried about thirty-nine variations and am still not satisfied.
I guess design number forty is coming up.