Thursday, August 21, 2014

This is Where I Belong…

Teachers begin their work long before they are ever given a class list. One of the very first tasks we tackle is creating a space that is functional, inviting, kid-friendly, and fun. It also needs to be organized enough that a classroom full of children can move comfortably, find what they need, and maximize their learning time. For me personally, the classroom environment I create is extremely intentional. During the school year, I spend more waking hours in my classroom than I do in my very own home, so it’s important to me that it’s a space I love. I used to put up a bunch of nonsense that I thought belonged in a classroom, but the longer I’ve taught, the more stingy I get with the space. I read one time that when people walk into your room, they should be able to immediately tell what it is you value. I value books, self-sufficiency, fun, and conversation, so I put a high priority on creating spaces in my classroom that reflect this. Allow me to take you on a tour of this year’s classroom…

This space is my little corner of the world. I try to make most of the classroom available to the kiddos, but this little area is kind of like my home office. It has my computer, bins for each day of the week, a board with funny quotes, pictures of former students, love notes from my kids, and my EVER-present Sonic drink. My BFF of 16 years moved to a new school this year, so the front of my desk is decorated of pictures of us with all of our different hairstyles.

This wall will eventually house our mathematical thinking. Patterns we observe, math vocabulary, and anchor charts, will all be on display here. The kiddos' cubbies are underneath that will house backpacks and book boxes.

IMG_5716This is the back wall of our classroom. The Math Daily 5 headers are on the cabinets and will be filled with activity titles once they are introduced to the students. The black coffee table is a workspace that is available to the kids anytime. Photo props were out for BTS night! The book jackets are hung from string with clothespins.

I’m pretty sure that if kiddos want to be in my room, it’s all because of this bathtub! I just happened to be in the right place at the right time when a teacher friend was retiring and I’ve had her bathtub ever since! This year, I added the books about bathtubs, and the bubbles hanging from the ceiling. I have a rotation system so that each kiddo gets a regular chance to work/read in the tub.

This is part of my classroom library. I am super-excited about my new book pillows that I got from ETSY. The books in the black crates are leveled by Lexile level and the books in the white tubs are organized by genre, topic, or author. The empty shelves on the wall are for the kiddos…Each time a student finishes a book, he/she gets to create a book spine to add to our class shelf.

Here is another section of our classroom library. The open-face bookshelf gets changed out seasonally- right now it’s all books about school and third grade. The book tubs on the left are mostly arranged by topic, author, or book series. Please note the AMAZING picture above the shelf. My sister is AWESOME at gifts and she had the lyrics to one of my favorite songs made into a canvas print that matches the colors of my classroom. Such a special gift.

Here’s the other big hit in my room…our couch! There is a rotation system to determine who gets to be the, “couch potatoes,” for the day. The front carpet is kind of like our gathering place. The kids come up front when I read aloud, when we’re solving tough math problems, or when we’re having class meetings. I found the cool Work Hard pillow at Marshall’s and felt like it was a necessary school supply.

Brain research, classroom experience, and common sense all point to the fact that learning is optimized when kids feel comfortable, know where things belong, and are in charge of their own space. I got to meet my new roommates this evening, and I am so excited about all the learning and fun that we’ll get to experience together this year!


Molly D said...

Where did you get the bath mat?