I’ve been a busy bee these last few days trying to get my classroom in order. There’s still a few weeks before we head back to school for our first teacher work days (we start July 27! YIKES!), but I’m going to be on vacation the week before school starts. So, I’ve got a lot to do in a shorter amount of time.
One of the things I love about the internet is our ability to give an inside look into our Magical Kingdoms (a.k.a. our classrooms). One of my cooperating teachers (from when I did student teaching) called it that once, and it always stuck with me…because our classrooms really ARE a Magical Kingdom of their own where we can make them whatever we want them to be. I love seeing what other teachers do in their classrooms, and every year I seem to find something new from Pinterest to add to or change about my own room. I thought I’d highlight a few of the things that I think are noteworthy, important, or just cool in mine.
1. New Seating, No Problems?
For the past few years, I’ve mostly stuck with group seating charts. Most groups had 4 or 5 desks. There was really nothing wrong with this layout, but this year I decided to spice it up. I saw a seating arrangement similar to what you see in the pictures on Pinterest, and I decided to try it out. The desks are grouped together in a horseshoe shape, and there are 4 clusters of them with 7 desks a piece. There are also 3 extra desks in the back corner by my bookshelf. I figure this can be an overflow area for large classes and a “you’re in trouble/stop talking/go sit in the corner” area in smaller classes. I split it up so that I can still walk around the room, and I’m interested to see how it works this year. If it’s a disaster (I could see it potentially being one with 7 kids sitting so close to one another), I can easily change it, but I’m optimistic!
2. What to do with the white board…
Awkward. That’s the only way to describe my white board. The only place in my room that they could put my Smart Board was smack dab in the middle of my white board, which makes it a bit awkward to use. I decided to just split it in half to use as my agenda board. On one side I have space for my honors class, and the other side is for my regular classes. Both sides have space for the daily agenda, the “I can…” statement (objective for the day), and homework. I’ve also got a small section running down the side for my block class, who I see two periods in a row. They usually have a totally different agenda for the second half of class, so they needed their own space.
3. When in doubt, take it to the couch.
I love my couch. I’ve actually had it since I was 13 years old. After some rough housing from students, it broke (slightly), but it’s still fully functional. I also added some cute pillows this year so students can use them if they choose to read on the floor or spread out for movie viewing. I made these cute pom-poms to match my classroom colors, and they now hang over my Smart Board.
4. Bulletin Board Bonanza
On the back side of my classroom, I’ve got a HUGE bulletin board. I wasn’t really sure what to do with it, so I divided it up into 5 sections. The first one is currently being used as an “About Me” display that will stay up for the first couple of weeks. I always put up pictures from my semester in Europe as well as 3-4 books that I read over the summer. (side note: This summer I’ve read All The Light We Cannot See, I’ll Give You the Sun, and To Kill a Mockingbird) The second picture shows my Leader Board, and this stays up all year. I put up the Top 3 in each class (best class averages, top test scores, best behavior, etc.). The kids love it, although I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that I give out candy when I update it. The other bulletin board spaces (not pictured) are used to display student work, hang anchor charts, put up other interesting background info for units we’re doing, etc.
5. Cute + Functional + Motivational
Maybe it’s just an English teacher thing, but my desk is always a nightmare. Up until this year, it’s also been a display case for tons of nerdy and personal items (pictures, statues, etc.). I decided I’ve got to look a little less like a hoarder this year, so I moved some of my favorite items to the top of one of my bookshelves. I love Harry Potter, so I’ve got a few cute owls. My parents also gave me a Gollum statue (it talks!), and he’s holding my Voldemort wand. Yeah, nerdy…I know. Behind my desk I’ve also been putting up some pictures of me and colleagues/former students as well as these two cute prints with quotes that I like.
6. GOALS: Write more. Be more grateful.
I read a blog earlier today about the 10 Things Experienced Teachers Want New Teachers to Know. I’m not a “new” teacher anymore, but it was still a refreshing read. The one thing I took away from it is that I need to put more effort into recording this wild roller coaster ride of teaching. That is, the positive parts of it. I got this awesome notebook from Staples today that says “don’t kill my vibes” (which is totally a reference to the Kendrick Lamar song “B**** Don’t Kill My Vibe”, so I obviously had to buy it). My plan is to use it to write down all the awesome things that happen throughout the day: times students make me proud, things that make me laugh and smile, memorable moments. I feel like I spend way too much time
complaining talking about the bad things students do with coworkers instead of focusing on the good. I hope this journal helps me do just that! Also, I got a cat mouse pad. So, lots of wins today.
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