It is a brand new school year and the Stories From School bloggers are back at it! Check out my latest post, a welcome letter to new teachers here.
The classroom environment is important to consider because it is the space to do our teaching and learning. Classroom environment affects behavior (yours and your students’), gives students a sense of safety and well-being, and influences children (and adult) perceptions.
After careful consideration, I decided to go with a red, white, and blue Americana theme as a nod to the 5th grade social studies curriculum, American history. Having no windows was going to be hard for me (and possibly my students) so I blew my budget with fadeless bulletin board paper (find it here on Amazon) that I think brings a touch of the outdoors. I also bought blue and red striped and polka dot border trim with solid colors as accents.
I couldn’t resist a few green things, either.
You may recall that I was not originally in a good head space about my move (exile) to the portable classroom. You can read about that here. I was feeling overwhelmed when the email finally came from our principal that the cleaners had come through, maintenance work orders had been accomplished and classroom keys could be checked out.
It was time to take a deep breath, embrace the mess and tackle the big pieces of furniture and boxes.
After a day or two of work, things were looking up. I could begin to see how routines and procedures would happen. Things were finding homes in new spaces.
Slowly but surely, the boxes were unpacked.
Here you can see the black student supply shelf (managed and operated by student helpers) and the fiction section of the class library in blue bins. The library is also managed by the students.
My horseshoe table is in the back corner of the room just waiting for small group lessons. Students will sit on the little stools to save room in the tight space. The stools will double as seating choices around the room, too.
I bribed former students with pizza to come help me hang bulletin boards and organize desks and books. I love asking former students to help because they know where things go and it is a great chance to catch up. Here you can see the non-fiction section of the library in the red bins and on the bottom halves of the wood shelves. You can see the “Were You Absent?” bin where students go to pick up work when they return from an absence. Three of my antique globes are seen here, too. My students love to look at these and they spark amazing questions, especially the moon globe.
This is my Mindset board (thank you, Pinterest). I focus a lot on mindset early in the year as we set goals for what we wish to accomplish in 5th grade. My students already love my Yoda impression that I trot out on day #1 as I share my life philosophy “Do or do not. There is no try.” Our classroom stage is below this bulletin board. We use the stage for book talks, presentations, and a flexible seating choice.
This is a smaller bulletin board than I am used to. I decided to use it for the items I change out daily or weekly. There is the Word of the Week (I use it for a call and respond attention getter), Joke of the Day (just for giggles), Quotable Quote (for thinking and writing about), Geography Trivia of the Day (ties into my year-long geography unit), and Idiom of the Week.
This is a display board I made near my desk. My class is named after the Arizona Wildcats. I don’t want to hear it, Sun Devils! The color scheme works, ok? You may have noticed the lamps. My fabulous mother-in-law found them for me at World Market. Lamps are not exactly legal at school, but with no windows in the portable, I’m looking for a solution to how to watch a video or take notes in a manner so that the students can easily see. It is difficult to see the projector with the lights on, but it is pitch black when the lights are off.
My Donor’s Choose Flexible seating grant (Check that out here) was funded and my new seating possibilities have just arrived. They are great additions to the stability balls I’ve been using for three years.
Even though this is a classroom reveal, it is really still a work in progress. As my wonderful friend and NNSTOY sister, Monica, reminded me, you can’t ever really be finished with a classroom arrangement until you and the students live in it together for a while.
I am so proud to share this video made by the Arizona K12 Center. Advocacy is nothing I thought I would feel so passionately about when I was just beginning my career. But years of working in our education system have made it impossible for me to stand quietly aside while other people (so-called “experts” and “reformers”) speak for my students and my profession. Check out the video here on the Arizona K12 Center’s website. While you’re there, check out their other podcasts and videos and the incredible professional learning events they offer. I consider myself lucky to be associated with them.