Welcoming the New School Year with Open Arms
Crayons, glue sticks, colored pencils, and pink erasers. The school supply aisles in August often generate exciting possibilities for educators as they greet the beginning of a new year. Setting up a classroom or refreshing a previous year’s classroom can be an energizing experience, but it can be even more than that. Providing students with clear indicators of how to navigate a classroom can help them adjust to your room and you.
There are some things in a classroom that often cannot be adjusted, such as where the computer can be hooked up or where a screen can be placed. Often, a teacher must work around fixed objects. Being mindful of cords and ensuring that students will not be walking over them is an important thing to remember. Additionally, using non-skid rugs will provide safe walking and sitting areas for students. Book cases should be secured to a wall, and fire code regulations should be observed for any objects that are to be suspended from the ceiling. Paying attention to safety is always the first priority in setting up a language arts classroom.
Labels and Bins
Organizing a classroom is important, but also think about how the classroom organization can be maintained by students. Bins that are easily accessible, labels that are easily read and seen, and clear locations of where things go will help your students maintain a neat and tidy classroom. Additionally, consider labeling broad areas, too. Literacy centers, writing centers, and reading corners can all be labeled. From second graders knowing where to put the glue sticks, to high school students knowing which bin contains their class’s interactive journals, having clear organization will contribute to a well-managed classroom.
Posters and Charts
Leaving space for anchor charts is essential. Anchor charts can be used to strengthen students’ understanding of concepts and processes. Posters containing reminders for classroom norms, noise levels, or behavioral expectations can be positive re-enforcements for students. A quick reminder can be given by calling students’ attention to a poster. Additionally, calendars of school events or lists of special dates can be helpful reminders for students. Areas designated for student work can give students an opportunity to shine.
Style and Personality
A classroom’s style often reveals a teacher’s personality. For example, when I was teaching, I always had a Pet Wall. As an animal lover, I allowed students to add pictures of their pets, or even find pictures of pets on the internet and in magazines that they wanted to add to the wall. These pictures were loved by my students, and the contributions continued throughout the school year, ending in a massive collage. Presently in my work, I visit classrooms often. I have seen classrooms spilling over in burlap, expertly and attractively decorated by their Pinterest-loving teachers. I have seen thematic approaches, such as Harry Potter adorned throughout the room, and I have seen rooms where polka dots rule. Students love the personalities of their teachers, so don’t be afraid to add personal touches. I have a friend who teaches eighth grade and loves to build inviting places for her students to read, such as on a rug in front of a fake campfire, on a fake grass rug complete with fake flowers, and on large front porch benches decorated with pillows shaped like flamingoes. Her students love to read in their own little niches, and getting out of desks provides motivation to read in a comfortable location. Having a clear purpose and direction for setting up a language arts classroom will help students adjust to a new school year and become a part of the classroom community.
As you begin a new school year, use the following link to register for Region 4 ESC professional learning sessions to support your endeavors to make the upcoming year the best yet!