One evening, I sat outside watching my 2yo play in the sandbox, and listened to a webinar that forever changed the way I'm going to set up my room. Erin Klein spoke about the effect of a classroom environment on student success. http://tlvirtualcafe.wikispaces.com/Classroom_Cribs?responseToken=0a69069a859197afdf29884ebe15adc6c
I had ditched the desks, that was the easy part. They were just black holes sucking up loose paper, every pencil bought by day 2, and lost library books. There wasn't a Pinterest idea out there that I hadn't tried to help my kids organize and try to keep those things clean. It's the "why" and all the other parts of the classroom she talked about that inspired me. After this webinar I have read many blogs and have had dozens of conversations with teachers who took the plunge. I even "lost" a whole evening to exploring classroomcribs.com. The more I see, the more excited I get.
I'm ditching my room crammed full of 25 desks where you have to move like a ninja to cross it.
I'm going to be really honest; if my principal would knock down the wall between my room and the fourth grade room next door, I'd probably keep my desks. Until this happens, our learning space is too small to fill it with contraptions that don't promote the student-led, collaborative environment I'm searching for. I need a room that has more of a natural flow. I need a room that will enhance the many purposes throughout the day
I'm ditching the clutter that comes with a room full of my teacher things.
If I haven't used it in the last two years, it's GONE! I'm going to be organized so that precious time is not wasted. Getting rid of the clutter frees up space and helps keep down distractions!
I'm ditching the brightly decorated, palm tree in the corner, cute pre-made poster, classroom themes.
I LOVE themes! I LOVE brightly colored rooms. I do NOT however like being in rooms where walls are covered in every poster ever made from school specialty. It's too distracting for me. I'm going to do everything possible to cut out the environmental distractions. When a student walks into my room, I don't want the first thing they notice to be the cool baseball diamond on the wall sized bulletin board that says "Hitting a Homerun in 3rd Grade". I was pretty proud of that bulletin board, but did it do what I needed it to do? My little pony-loving, have to wear pink, where's my tiara girl that walked into my room could have cared less about THAT kind of diamond! It was also something that I created for MY classroom. From now on, the room will be filled with things WE create for OUR classroom. This will mean that the room may not be picture perfect the first day. I'm going to have to be ok with that. The first thing people will notice in my room are the words "Be brave" "Choose kind" "You matter". If I'm going to have something distracting on the walls, I'm going to make it worthwhile. Other anchor charts and informative posters will be created and switched around as we learn.
I'm ditching the "ALL ME" led decision making I've employed in the past.
Students are going to have a Voice and a Choice! I am not comfortable in a desk for 99.9% of the projects I complete in a day, and I don't think the students are either. Students are beginning to realize (with guidance) their learning styles and preferences. Why not make the classroom a place where students can move and work in the optimal place for them and the task they are completing? As I finish rereading books such as "Learn Like a Pirate" and "Pure Genius", I am inspired to create a safe place for voices to be heard both by individuals and collectively.
I'm ditching the "sage on the stage" approach.
With the use of Kagan, mini lessons, guided reading and math, pbl, etc., I'm finding the need for myself glued to the chalkboard with rows of students in front of me non existent. When I want to teach whole group, my classroom layout still has an option for that. Now though, it also is a place that will promote and enhance all the other great parts of our day.
I'm as excited as a first year teacher to get in and create the environment we are going to spend from August to May growing in. I have no doubt there is going to be a learning curve, but am reinspired to follow my passion as a teacher of future leaders!
Pictures of the new set up to come in August!