The Student’s Classroom: A Classroom Unveiling
As I started writing this post, I decided to change the direction of it. Orignally it was going to be a post containing a classroom unveiling and first day of school activites. But, once I started writing it I felt strongly that it needed to only be a classroom unveiling. You’ll understand why in a moment.
Before we get to the barrage of pictures of the classroom, I have to jump on a soap box – feel free to scroll on to the pictures.
I’ve seen some pictures of absolutely BEAUTIFUL classrooms on Instagram, Facebook, and blogs this back to school season. But, something keeps striking a chord with me. While beautiful on the surface, are these rooms actually decorated for the children? Are teachers thinking about involving the kids in decorating the room and hanging authentic artwork or other pieces as the “focal point?” Or rather, are these rooms decorated based on the teacher’s interests and ideas. I hate to say it, but I’ve seen so many classrooms with every square inch of wall space covered BEFORE students even arrive. My mind immediately jumps to, “that’s just wallpaper to the kids.” To me having the room completely decorated clearly communicates who has ownership of the room – and it’s not the children. I’ll admit that last year I started with a much more heavily teacher-decorated room than I went with this year – so I’m guilty too. But, I just can’t help but wonder where a student who may have ADD/ADHD, or just a trouble focusing, is going to rest his or her eyes with so much busyness on walls. Where are you going to hang student work? How do all of those posters tie in with what the students know when they enter your classroom? Do the students REALLY use all of those store bought posters about addition or sentence types?
Yes, these pictures look absolutely stunning on Pinterest. Yes, these pictures inspire teachers to be more creative. Yes, these pictures showcase countless hours of work. And yes, these teachers have put a tremendous amount of work into the space they have created.
But, do these pictures necessarily showcase a great teacher? Do they showcase student interest? I’m just not so sure about that.
I don’t intend this as an attack on having resources at the ready, or any posters at all up. More so I just want teachers to think through the eyes of a child when they are decorating and with the true interests of the child at heart.
With that being said, I’m dismounting my soapbox.
Let’s get on with the unveiling!
Remember, my thought process was organized simplicity. I wanted space for lots of student-created work. I didn’t even hang my Pinterest-famous [anchor wreath] or showcase another Pinterest favorite, the [teacher toolbox]. Instead, the wreath is in a box in my garage, and the toolbox is in a cabinet out of sight.
Why? The classroom is about the kids, not me. OK – this time I promise I’m off the soapbox! On to the pictures.
Here’s what you see when you walk in from our “shared space.” Our school is open concept so the view from behind the camera goes into a common area that links all 4 Kindergarten classrooms – no doors on the rooms.
Typical tables to promote collaboration and a lower table for group projects and activities related to our current units.
Here’s our word wall and Mimio board. All that’s really up on the wall at this point is student names and my/assistant’s names.
A closer view of the calendar/whole group lesson area. Just about all of these items are on Velcro or magnets (in the case of the easel) because I want the students to be involved. I don’t need to change the date on the “Today is…” strip. I don’t need to add the straws to the days in school or the money to the money chart. The kids do! That’s also why everything is at their level.
Moving over from the calendar is the painting area. It’s basically a white board built out from the wall that’s covered in butcher paper, but how precious that there is a dedicated painting area!
There’s also a glimpse of our nifty Daily 5 bags. I’ve always just used gallon plastic bags in the past, but I’m excited to try these out!
Right next to the painting easel is what I like to call the “command center.” Anything the kiddos could need supplies wise is kept here. It’s not hidden somewhere in a cabinet, but out where kids can access it. “Material managers” for each table will be responsible for making sure each table has the supplies it needs and retrieving any missing items from here.
Spinning right over into our library alcove is such a cozy area! I choose to level about 1/3 of my books by reading level and leave the remaining organized by genre, author study, and science unit. A few of the bins are empty now because we haven’t jumped into those units just yet.
This area isn’t so focused access and use by the kiddos – it’s the storage area just outside the class restroom. All sorts of files, read aloud books, and reading/math boxed centers are stored here.
If there were a second “command center” in our room, this would be it. Labeled math and reading manipulatives/resources and plenty of educational “free choice” options.
As you can see, there is definite organization to the room, but the decorating has been kept to a minimum. I want the kids to see walls full of their artwork – not posters that I’ve created. Short of our word wall and calendar area, the walls are open and ready for student work!
SO excited for this year! I’ll be back tomorrow with a post on first day activities!
Your classroom looks great and really accessible for your kids! I've been in all week trying to get mine sorted for the start of term – some nice ideas here, thank you 🙂
Thank you Fiona! Good luck to you!