This blog was originally published on August 14th, 2015. It has been updated with new information and links.
Back to School is here and there is no stopping it, even as we negotiate masks and vaccinations. Not to fear! We are educators, and we can do hard things! If you will be returning to a brick & mortar classroom, this blog provides some fresh ideas.
The beginning of a new school year is the perfect opportunity to redefine how your classroom looks and operates ensuring the space is effective and efficient. In previous eras, classrooms were designed around "chalk and talk," or the “sage on the stage,” teaching. But, over time, teaching and learning have evolved. Best pedagogical practices and research inform us that students learn best when teachers are a “guide on the side,” or “teach between the desks.”
Here are suggestions for creating a classroom that flows with efficiency!
1. Keep materials ready and abundant- including books so students can engage in casual reading whenever they have time.
2. Create a place where students can meet and feel secure. Students learn from each other and need a consistent environment where face-to-face interactions happen organically. Most of our communication is through body language, so providing students with opportunities to work together improves students’ EQ (Emotional Quotient).
3. Classroom technology should be nimble and easy to access.
4. For students who are tech-savvy, consider a mentor-mentee model with those who have more experience offering support to those who have less.
5. Think through placing your teacher desk at the back of the room to reinforce your role as a guide and encourager.
Take a look at these inspirational classrooms:
While you might not be able to completely redesign your classroom, there are small things you can do to engage and excite your students about learning.
1. Use the organization and décor of your classroom as a community-building opportunity!
2. Ask students to draw pictures of how they would like their classroom organized.
3. Invite parents to offer their suggestions about what would engage their children in active learning.
4. Treat your classroom as a blank slate and turn it into an innovative learning space that inspires creativity!
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