As the end of the year dawns upon us, teachers and educators can rejoice for their well-deserved break after a long and successful year. But as much as we can sit back, relax, and let the projects and movies float us to the finish line, you as an educator can utilize this time to reflect and strategize in redefining the look and overall operations of your classroom. Believe it or not, the setup and arrangement of your classroom can help ensure how effectively and efficiently your students work each and everyday. Just think about the example of working at a messy desk. With misplaced items and mounds of paper, that type of situation is clearly not ideal. Similar to this example, the same goes for your classroom.
To effectively alter the design of your classroom, I have provided eight core categories that you should be thinking and refining especially over the summer. This type of layout can help you optimize the space and the overall logistics so that your scholars can continue learning each and every day.
1. It all starts with the Teacher
One thing to keep in mind, an aesthetically pleasing classroom is by no means an ideal classroom. For a classroom to be effective and efficient in its operations, it all needs to start with the foundation, management, and culture of the teacher. As the teacher, you need to make sure your presence is known through your management. Like with any management job, you are only as good as your workers. With your students, if you find that they are acting up or misbehaving, you as a leader need to make sure you are able to approach each problem in the most beneficial way possible. I cannot stress this enough; even with the best resources, a teacher cannot perform to his or her highest if they do not have that control. If you felt that you were weak or unsuccessful with your classroom management, try observing veteran teacher’s since it is the end of the year. This can give you a variety of ideas and tactics in how you can shape your style and thinking for next year.
2. Arrangement of Desk
Seating is by far one of the most crucial points in shaping your classroom to its fullest. While the standard ‘row’ style of seating has been preferred for many years, many educators and experts alike are moving towards a more collaborative group setting. To help you with this, make sure you have groups of five with no more than five or six at one group. Having this type of group setting will allow you to provide your students the opportunity to work and engage with one another. A group with more than five or six students maybe too challenging as it might give them free reigns to talk and discuss. If you find there are problems with students, group desk can give you an option to swap your students from one group to another so that you can alleviate any misbehavior. As for the overall location and arrangement, try creating an open space in the middle of the class where you can walk around. Test it out too where you can walk from one end to the other without having to hop over items or students. Unlike rows, you want to make sure your classroom gives you the opportunity to walk and interact with your scholars in any scenario of the class.
3. Tracking System
In any class, it is absolutely important that your students can internalize their own personal success and goals for the academic year. To help with this, make sure you have a tracking system where your students can understand where they are and where you want them to be. Try even challenging them. One way to do this is to make it into a competition amongst your classes. The more they are invested in this system, the more your scholars will be motivated for success.
4. A+ Work
This is something that is incredibly common in all classes. But to truly showcase great work, you want to make sure that you are personifying individuals who are going above and beyond what you are expecting. Now do not play favorites. Yes, it is always great to show case Julie and Adam’s work every time, but you also want to deliver hope. If you see that there is a student who has invested in the work and has hit the standards for excellence, make sure you not just put their work on the board, but highlight it with a shout out in the classroom. This type of positivity can bolster that much needed confidence that student maybe looking for in order to lead him or her to the path of success.
5. Academic Resources
Always make sure there are resources like a word wall or an equations board that your students can refer to. This can play a large role in them noting important points for homework, quizzes, and exams.
6. Operational Logistics
The logistics within your classroom need to be sound. Questions like ‘Where do we put our homework?’ or ‘Where can I find my textbook?’ need to already be ingrained in your students by week one. If you want to add a new element to your class, make sure you note and rehearse this with them. Eventually this will become second nature.
7. Inspirational Quotes
While it may seem like an aesthetic charm to the class, inspirational quotes can be great source to capture the attention of your students.
8. Teacher’s Personality
To truly capture the personality of your class, try adding your own flair by showcasing your personal interest. For some teachers this can be their alma mater. For others, this can be a particular sports team. Whatever is the case, throw it up on the wall. It will provide an opportunity for your students to learn more about you than just being Mr. XYZ.