Environment is everything when it comes to setting up at the beginning of the year. How you set up your classroom can create an inviting environment that lets your students know a little about you before you even begin. You don’t want to give the wrong idea about what the school year will look like or what to expect.
I definitely feel it is important to plan on having a classroom that reflects my personality. This might be something in Zen, watercolor shades or this could be completely Disney! It might be fun to have a Disney themed classroom that I could implement with the curriculum throughout the year.
When it comes to Disney, I feel that there is something for everyone. There are so many different stories I can implement into my classroom culture. I could even take a vote at the beginning of the year to see what my students like best as well.
As for the physical set up of the classroom, I am planning first on having a clearly defined cozy reading nook. I know that having one in my elementary school classrooms was what helped me begin my love of reading. This will include a wide variety of books to choose from at different reading levels. The books will be organized by subject in different bins. Students will have assigned days of the week to switch out books if they are ready to change to new ones.
I especially love this “Spooky Books” cauldron that I found. It would be fun to do something like this with different types of books throughout the school year. I also love the idea of having “reading buddies” if the students want them. They could live in the class library but be available for student use during IDR. This library will be tucked away in the corner of my classroom. I would prefer that to be a corner with windows. I am also planning on implementing some cozy twinkly lights.
When it comes to supplies, I also want this to be out of the way and not distracting if students need to get something. I am thinking my supply center will be situated in the back of the classroom. I also like the idea of having different storage systems for different subjects. This, I hope, will keep the materials more organized and easy to access.
The biggest and probably most difficult piece I am hoping to implement in my classroom is flexible seating. I know that students have different needs and might need different seating types in order to be the most successful in my classroom. There would be rules, of course, that went along with that too. At the top of that would be that the different seating types would have rotations. The same student would not sit in the same type of seating each day. This is one way I hope to differentiate learning opportunities in my classroom.
The center for homework turn in or collection will be near the door. This way, students will see it more easily and remember to turn in or collect their work. Next to this, I would like to have a bin for the days of the week where students who were absent or maybe even just need another copy can get the work they have missed.
For communication home, students will receive weekly newsletters to give their parents. The newsletters will include information that will also be posted on the class blog. Students will help contribute to the class blog with a writer and photographer chosen as class jobs for a given week. These two sources of information will tell parents what is going on in our classroom and what is coming up.
Bulletin Boards & Displays:
As for bulletin boards, the final aspect I will write about, I plan on having several types throughout the school year. From what I have seen, the first type I would like is a student display board. I like the idea of having a clip for each student so that work can easily be added or removed throughout the year. This is a way for students to display finished work and feel good about what they have done.
Next, I would like to have a motivational bulletin board. This board would change throughout the year depending on the season, potential holidays coming up, or even just my students’ needs. This would be the board that welcomes my students to my classroom, maybe even stating some facts about me and also the board that will wish them well into the next school year.
Finally, I would have an educational bulletin board. This board would have to do with a current unit or even something my students are working on. This would include my word wall as well. This would be a resource for my students if they need help or are struggling with a new concept.
Besides the bulletin boards around the room, I will also have a central calendar center near the white board/smart board at the front of the classroom. This would be an informational center for my students and would include things like: calendar, schedule for the day, holidays, birthdays, upcoming class events, etc.
And with that, this three-part series is over! Please let me know if you have an comments of suggestions! I am completely open and would love advice from elementary teachers on what does and doesn’t work in their classrooms.