With school set to go back in a few days in Australia, I’ve been busy preparing my classroom ready for the start of the school year.
It’s also been interesting to read a few posts from other who have focused on how classroom design and layout impacts on pedagogy.
My process for setting up my learning space at the start of the year begins by moving all of the furniture out or into the centre of the room and starts with cleaning: wiping away the dust that has settled over the holiday break, removing pieces of old blue tack, taking staples out from pin boards… so that I have a ‘blank canvas’ to begin with.
My next step is to usually setup my desk. I know there has been a lot of discussion about the need for a teacher desk within the classroom. In some years, I have had a separate “office” either adjacent or away from my classroom whilst other years it’s been in the classroom. In deciding where to position my desk, I don’t like facing the wall and like to see people as they come into my classroom. I’m also mindful of sun glare on my laptop screen and access to power points.
Once I’ve located myself, I then work on the layout of student tables and resources such as bookcases and other materials. Again there are so many variables to be considered in doing this. I like my students to work in groups so I usually position my tables so that they are in groups of 4. Usually I will have 1 larger table of up to 6 for larger group activities that require extra space. I try to space these out so that there is enough room to allow for good ‘traffic flow’ as students transition from one task to the next.
I also try to make sure I have ‘floor space’ for students to sit. I like to use use ‘circles’ as a way of sharing, solving problems and presenting new information.
Finally, I then add posters and displays to make the environment feel warm and inviting. Some of these include:
- Daily Schedule\List of what’s on for the day
- Map of Australia\World and World Time Clocks
- Classroom Agreement\School Rules\Values\Procedures (eg: start of day, end of day, wet day etc…)
- Class Mission Statement
- Literacy Support Materials – eg: writing processes, vocabulary etc…
- Numeracy Support Materials – eg: times tables, processes etc…
- Information\Posters related to our Unit of Work\Inquiry topic
- ICT Acceptable Use Agreements and links to websites, our blog, class twitter etc…
I also like to ensure I leave enough space to display student work and photos of our learning throughout the year.
Creating good classroom displays are not my strong point. Earlier in my career, I would have made these myself but have now come to realise that my time could be better used so I am happy to rely on Google and Pinterest for inspiration and am willing to download free or pay for the odd display to save time.
Whilst the layout of my room generally stays the same I think it’s important to remember that it shouldn’t stay static. Depending on the activity planned, it is sometimes necessary to move and alter the layout to suit the learning that is occurring.
What’s your process for setting up your learning space?
What additional resources\materials\displays do you use?
What considerations do you have when you setup your space?