Saturday, 7 February 2015

Kitting out the Classroom (Habitat)

One of the most exciting things for a teacher is setting up the classroom. We go into a state of craziness over transforming what is often a very dull space into a spectacular, inviting, creative learning space. I'm personally not much into Pinterest, but I do identify a little with this fabulous parody. 

I should point out here that my personal philosophy is that a classroom has to work for the teacher - but it's primary function is to support the learners. It has to be a safe place, and a place where students feel they belong. I believe that a teacher can decorate a room, perhaps in a theme (I had a 'Flying High'/Aeroplane theme last year) but learning materials must wait and go up when they have a context to the children. Start teaching vocab/sightwords then put them on the wall, teach your writing process then put the prompts on the wall, etc. 

But what happens when there's four teachers, with four differing philosophy's sharing the same four walls? How is the space and resources managed?

It's certainly a discussion that has to be had within and team - and perhaps to school level. It needs to be considered - what do management, visitors and parents want to see on the walls? Just finished products? Should parents see the planning and crafting process as well? Should there be no children's work and just reference points to learning tasks? Do children even pay attention to reference points? Can a classroom have too much 'visual clutter'?

Then there is the matter of resources. Do you put everything out at once so children have access to whatever interests them? Or if your focus is on measurement, do you just put out the measurement things? Should books be kept in one place, or all over the habitat? Should language resources be kept in a language 'centre' or should the children access that everywhere? What if it's a language book - is that a book or is it language!?!?!? 

For all of these questions I can make a decision for myself. But it comes back to the team - it's one of those little things that's going to take some time, but I think it's time worth spending getting on the same page. 

The key in the end.... WHY?

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