When I first walked into my classroom it looked like this:
It had no color, vibrancy or life to it. I knew I could never learn in a space like this, nor did I want to work in one. So my mother and I spent several days cleaning, painting, and sprucing things up. When we were done, my classroom looked like this:
The walls were bright, the tables colorful, signs were hung, but I still never enjoyed the layout. Six tables all in rows. For years I had six tables all in rows. I asked the kids how we should arrange the space. Tables would move into weird shapes that made no more sense than they did before, and quickly we would find ourselves back to six tables all in rows.
This year I was finally done. My classroom is a large space, and we were crammed into these rows because I couldn’t come up with any other idea. I decided I would create learning spaces for collaboration, and the spaces would need to make sense when we did centers.
First, I started with my vocabulary center. I have a white board that had computers sitting in front of it, so it was never used. I moved the computers, covered the white board with paper, and created a word wall. I then put a table in front of the wall for my kids to work while they are expanding their vocabulary.
Next, I brought some large pillows I had from home, bought a rug for $7, and created a nice, comfy reading area.
I have had a couch squished in the corner of my room for years now. Although I didn’t mind students sitting on it, most just assumed it was a forbidden seat, and it was rarely used. Why do teachers keep couches in their room that students can’t sit on? I decided to put it front and center. It’s a great place to work, and it’s perfect for the game center.
My students really wanted bean bags to sit on, so we got a few with some grant money, and I also got a toddler table, so they would have a work space that was just the right height.
The last area I created was my drama center. Last year, my students and I cleaned out the closet and painted one wall green so we could have a green screen recording studio. We also store costumes and props in the closet, so it just made sense to have the drama center right next to it.
My room finally feels like it has a purpose to the layout, and while we don’t do centers every day, each area is used for group work and collaboration. My students love it, and I’m finally happy with my classroom.