Posted in Education, New Ideas, Students, Teaching, Trying Something New

Summer Reflections Part V: At Home in the Classroom

When I was a teenager and started to develop my own identity and personality, one of the first things I wanted to do was to make my bedroom my own.  I found cool posters of rock bands to put on the walls, organized my book shelf, and put all of the furniture where I wanted it.  It became my space because I made it that way.  It showcased a little bit of who I was becoming.  I felt safe and supported when I was in my room because it contained my essence.

As a teacher, my goal every summer is to make my classroom feel the same way to both my students and my co-teacher and I.  I want the classroom to be a safe haven from all of the craziness that exists beyond its walls.  I want the students to feel at home when they are in our sixth grade classroom.  Each summer I find new ways to tweak it just a bit for the next year.  In the past several years, not too much has changed other than the new furniture I purchased for my room last year.  The posters have mostly been in the same place and the organization of the space has stayed the same.  I liked it that way.  It felt welcoming and safe.  Because I knew that I would be working with a new co-teacher this year, I wanted to mix things up a bit.  So, I removed the posters from the walls at the end of the year so that I could start from scratch when setting it up.

When I set things up last week, I tried some new things.  As my co-teacher wanted to get settled in when she moved to campus, she allowed me to set the classroom up.  I tried to keep her in mind when putting everything together.  I had ordered some new posters to freshen up the walls a bit and placed the old posters in new places.  I wanted to bring the space back to life a bit.  The new posters fit in great and really help to make the classroom feel like a learning space.  I absolutely love what I was able to do in terms of the wall coverings.

As for the furniture, I kept things about the same.  The reading nook is in the back left corner of the classroom, the work space table is in the back right corner, and the student desks are up front in the middle of the room.  I like that set up and feel it is conducive to creativity, freedom, and safety.  It allows for students to choose where to work.  

The one new addition to the room that I am so excited about is the Maker Space I added in the front right corner of the classroom.  I painted four of the glass panes surrounding the space with blackboard paint to allow for ideas to be chalked upon them.  I placed a special whiteboard covering on the other four glass panes so that the students could blueprint ideas upon them when working in the space.  The small table allows for plenty of building space while the drawers underneath it contain a multitude of building materials from craft supplies to wood and screws.  I’m hopeful that this space will be used by the boys when they finish work, have some down time, or need to reenergize.  I can’t wait for the students to enter the room and explore.

While not much changed in my classroom from last year, some minor changes, I feel, will make a huge difference this year.  I’m hopeful that the students will feel even more supported, cared for, and challenged this year.  Although it still contains much of my essence, my hope is that I was also able to capture the personality of my co-teacher as well as my new students in the process.  

To check out the space for yourself, please feel free to enjoy this video I created for my new students and their families.

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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