As we teachers are making our way into our classrooms after a nice long summer, the moment is ripe for
start with a blank slate
It's so hard to know what you have to work with when your room is cluttered with all you earthly possessions. I know I would miss a lot of the magic a room has to offer if I kept all the furniture and trinkets as I tried to re-jig my classroom.
Here's what I recommend:
* Fill your recycling bin! take all the posters, Bristol boards, construction paper and whatever else off the walls.
* pile up all your chairs, and if you can't move them out (or don't want to waste your arm strength), just shove all the big furniture to one side. (here's my secret tip: my boyfriend generously offers me one day of volunteering at school at the beginning of the school year, and one at the end of the year. It's priceless).
* Organize your possessions. Games all in one pile books in another, books together in one area. That allows you to see how much of each thing you own- sometimes we forget what our classroom library looks like because we have different categories of books all over the place.
Here's what my classroom looked like when I first walked in.
Since all the furniture was mainly piled together, I immediately started taking down everything from the display boards. Another reason this is important: you get to see what colors work best in the room. Since my room is painted light yellow and light blue, I'll use dark blue as an accent color- goodbye red!
* As a teacher, you have the power of deciding so much in your classroom. You can decide what makes it up on the walls, if you have tables or desks, what type of seating is available, everything really. As items make it back into your room, seriously evaluate if they are a must, or if there is a better way of doing things.
Teacher desk: do you need it? do you use it? how many times a day do you sit and work at your desk? is it just a spot for clutter to gather? How else could you organize your space?
Walls: Are you putting things up that you won't refer to all the time? Is it appealing to students? (I have hate towards cheesy clip art) Would the same message be more meaningful if it was student created? Is it meaningful to students? Are you putting things up because you always have, or because your colleagues do?
think like a student
Both you and your students are spending the better part of your day in school, in your classroom. In my school board, most kids eat lunch in their classes too- meaning they spend more time in the class than teachers do! It really is your home away from home.
So why not make it feel that way? I want my students to feel like they own the space, which is why I put up framed pictures of them playing or reading. Its also why there are plants, lamps, and comfortable seating around. Making your class into a comfortable, homey environment isn't difficult, and makes a big difference in the tone of your classroom.
It's also important to critically evaluate the implicit message your decor sends to your students. You may or may not have guessed I am opposed to teacher desks, and that's because I feel the message behind a teacher desk is: I am the teacher, and you are the student, and I am more important so I get a big imposing desk only I can sit at, and you get small tables you must share, and that is how child-adult relationships should be. Teacher desks say a lot!
Keep in mind...
These are some of the principles that guide my design decisions in the classroom. No classroom is flawless, and it can be demanding to break habits, and work with the permanent characteristics of a classroom, all while accommodating large class numbers, but it can be done when thinking creatively. Start small, but start!
It's no secret teachers don't make the big bucks. After all, we're not in it for the money, we get something much more than that out of our days. That being said, I think it's fair to say we get very invested in what happens in our classroom (see what I did there?).
So what is the best way to create an inviting learning environment without breaking the bank? Keep reading to see how I set up my class this year with a $200 budget!
Since I've been victim of over-spending in my class, and because I want to save myself and others the trouble in the future, I've set myself a challenge of limiting my new class decor spending budget to 100$. That quickly got spent, and I updated my budget to $200 - I felt this was less than usually gets spent in a year, but still enough to buy me a great classroom set up.
First lesson in budget shopping:
Prioritize your Shopping List
Reduce, Reuse & Recycle
Well now that you've made your list and prioritized it, time to start slashing. That's the reduce part. It would be nice to have those cute IKEA leaves, a document camera, or even a giant rug for classroom morning meetings, but the reality is, schools have limited budgets, teachers definitely have limited budgets, and, as a famous Brit once said, you can't always get what you need. Accept it now that your classroom can be beautiful and fantastic and still be 'missing' things. We get by.
My recycle element takes place when my family clean up their respective homes. I love that they know me well enough to ask before they throw out any furniture or decor accessory- before a pillow, lamp, or frame gets tossed, they always ask: do you want this for your classroom? The answer is always YES (because if I don't, a teacher colleague probably will!). This summer, I got frames, and old board games. Not bad! Make sure your friends and family know to ask you this important question when they are updating or cleaning up their homes!
Reuse: the easiest element for any decorating teacher. Visit any salvation army to find great deals on board games, books, frames and pillows. I got some wooden IKEA frames from the Renaissance (thrift store) for only 75¢ each! I plan on using this for a classroom management tool that I will show in a future post, as well as display areas for classroom pictures. Since I had some change left in my budget, and decided to buy some new pillow covers at my corner Dollarama- but I am reusing last year's pillows.
The Final Round-up
Stay tuned to see how it all fits together in my new classroom!
As back to school season is approaching, many teachers are preparing to greet their new groups of students for the year. Prepping materials, cleaning classrooms, and gathering supplies.
But there's a part of preparation we teachers often overlook: self-care. In my point of view, taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do before heading back to school!
To make sure I have a successful, happy & healthy year ahead of me, there are some things I make sure to master before back-to-school begins! I created a fun infographic using Venngage to show you the three ways I practice self-care for back to school!
My name is