Yesterday, I happened to catch Miss Night‘s tweet about the new Kinderblog Challenge, and as somebody that’s been constantly thinking about classroom set-up since the end of June, I’m very eager to participate in this challenge.
The truth is that setting up a classroom often overwhelms me. As somebody that struggles with visual spatial skills (my parking skills being the best example of this 🙂 ), figuring out how to organize a classroom is very difficult. Here’s what I usually do:
- Get all of the small items on shelves or in cupboards. Then I can see the big picture.
- Move the desks and chairs to the outside of the room. I need to see a blank space.
- Start moving around and playing with furniture.
- Stand at the door and see what it looks like.
- Move furniture around again.
- Stand again and observe.
- Walk around and get the feel of the room.
- Repeat! Repeat! Repeat! 🙂
Then, when I feel good about the furniture arrangement, I take some photographs, tweet them, and email them to my parents (who are both in education and often act as my “classroom advisors” 🙂 ). I ask for feedback, and then I start making more changes. I really need this outside perspective!
One of the most important voices in classroom arrangement though, comes a little later — at the beginning of September — when the students arrive. We look at how the room is arranged. We work and learn in the environment, and then we make changes based on all of our needs. My Grade 1’s may be young, but their voices are still important ones to hear, and often their voices are varied, so the room needs to match these variations.
- Some students like to work with others. Some like to work alone.
- Some students enjoy sitting at desks or tables. Others feel more comfortable on the floor.
- Some students like lots of visuals to capture their interest and inspire their creations. Other students need the calmness of a blank wall and a quiet space.
But all students need room: room to think, room to spread out, room to converse, and room to create. So no matter what, I’m going to try hard to give them this space, and then we can work together to create the different areas in the room to match with the different needs of the students. A room is just a space, but it’s amazing the impact that this space has on student learning.
When the year begins, there will be a lot of blank bulletin boards, with neutral coloured paper, different desk and table groupings, alternate seating options, such as beanbag chairs and a bench if possible, and lots of open areas for students to learn alone or together and where furniture can be rearranged as needed. It’s a new year, a new school, and a new grade: together, we will make this “blank slate” into our classroom. I can’t wait!
How would you respond to this Kinderblog Challenge? What advice do you have for me as I keep thinking ahead to the September start-up? I’d love to hear your thoughts!