Making the Most of Your Classroom Space
Let’s face it, as teachers our classroom often becomes our “home away from home.” It should be a space in which we enjoy working and inspiring students to learn. As we approach the first day of school, students will be able to tell a lot about you when they enter your classroom. So what are the most important things to keep in mind when you are setting up your classroom space?
1) Spatial arrangement should support student flow of movement. Think about your daily schedule and the expectations that you have for your students. Arrange the furniture, materials, and supplies so that students can move about easily from desks, tables, stations, and/or whole group gathering areas. Sometimes, less is more. A space crowded with too much furniture can cause problems, so keep only the furniture that you need.
2) Label, label, label! The more you label spaces, material stations, etc., the less confusion you will have on the first day. If you have a procedure than requires students to do things in a certain way, make certain it is easy to follow that procedure. Labeling helps with this!
3) Make your classroom inviting. Students (and their parents) can walk in and immediately tell whether you care about your job as a teacher and about them as students based on the way your classroom looks. Your boss can also tell whether you care enough to invest the time needed to make your space an exciting, inviting place for students to learn. If you are in need of ideas, check out Pinterest. You can find so many creative ideas for decorating your classroom without breaking the bank.
4) Make each space in your classroom organized and purposeful. An organized classroom is one of the most proactive ways to avoid behavior problems. This involves having your materials and supplies in a designated space and procedures that support the procurement, usage, and return of these items. Also, use your bulletin boards, wall space, counter space, and any other space to support the daily activities and routines that will occur in your classroom.
5) Experiment with flexible seating. Students need to problem-solve, discuss, create, and build collaborative relationships. Sometimes traditional seating does not support this type of work. Flexible seating allows students to sit in the type of seating where they learn best. It mimics real-life work spaces and promotes collaboration among students. Several teachers at my school have added flexible seating for students as part of a student-centered initiative in our district. We are very excited to see how it improves the learning environment and student success. For more information about flexible seating, stay tuned. We will provide more about this soon.
Photo credits: Pictures are from the classrooms of Michelle Landry, Natalie Nettles, and Jessica Tarver from Tioga Junior High School. Thank you, ladies!
Susan Dewees, Ed.D. is an administrator at a large middle school. She also served as a Turnaround Team Coordinator for a public school district in Louisiana. She has 20 years of experience in public school education, and special education is one of her specialties.
Erin Stokes, Ed.D. is a Title I Instructional Coordinator for a public school district in Louisiana. She has over 10 years of experience as a teacher and instructional coach. She is also an adjuct professor at Louisiana College. She loves students, teachers, and most of all--learning.
Becky Pippen, Ed.D. is currently serving as principal of a large middle school in Louisiana. She has over 20 years experience in educational leadership. She is passionate about improving the teacher workforce so that all students have the quality of instruction they deserve.