This week we start school, and I’m going to meet my new students. In preparation, I’ve tried to make my classroom inviting and conducive to learning for them. In fact, inspired by Pinterest (sometimes a curse) I started transforming my classroom a few days early because I have a large classroom to set up.
I’m certainly not complaining, though, because it took nine years for me to get my amazing classroom. For many years, I was on a cart and “floated” into other teachers’ classrooms. Fortunately, as I set up my room, I had help from my niece and teacher intern.
However, two challenges remained, including decorating on a teacher-friendly budget and making it appropriate for high school students. I also wanted to ensure that it was an organized space that would create the best learning environment for my students. But with hard work and creativity, my classroom is now ready to go!
Here’s what my classroom looked like when I first returned. (We pack everything at the end of the year so the custodians could clean the floors.) You can see there was a lot of work in order to get it ready for the first day of school!
And here’s my classroom transformation!
This wall includes fun displays, part of my classroom library, and the crates where I collect student assignments. On the classroom library shelf, I have a clipboard where students write their names, the titles and authors of the books they check out, the dates they borrow them and the dates when they return them. It’s not fancy but works fine for me.
Sometimes I have students pass their assignments forward to me when I collect them, but other times I have them turn their papers into the crates pictured above. This is especially helpful when students have been absent or are turning an assignment in late. I have instructions posted on the wall above to remind students of the submission procedures.
In the photo above, I’ve created a work space for when students work in groups or need to be by themselves. I also purchased a hanging shoe organizer for the students’ cell phones. Each pocket has a numbered index card that matches with a number on the student’s assigned seat. To decorate, I’ve taken book covers and laminated them to make a hanging banner in the back corner of my classroom.
For my seating arrangement, I have students facing towards the front of the classroom in small diagonal and vertical rows. This facilitates discussion. It also makes it easy for me to circulate around the room. Frequently, I ask students to turn their desks into circles so that they can meet in groups (especially for reading discussions). I also mark the floor at the front of each row so that it’s easy for the students to return the chairs to their original rows. At the front of the classroom, I have my document camera, a lectern, a table for handouts and supplies, and another bookshelf.
I’ve received many compliments on this bulletin board that was inspired by a picture that I found on Pinterest. It helps me communicate the message that students should take ownership of their learning. With the help of my teacher intern, we added inspirational quotes around the mirror so students will feel empowered to achieve success.
Finally, above my book shelves, I display student book projects from years of teaching. These projects always capture their attention and it shows them that I’m proud of them. I love displaying their hard work!
What do you do to make your classroom an inviting environment and organized learning environment? Please share your ideas in the comments below!