Classroom Design (page 3)
When you create a classroom environment that is functional and organized, yet comfortable for you and your students to inhabit day in and day out, you lay the groundwork for a good school year. The physical appearance of your classroom is also the first impression people will have of it.
- Develop a clear vision of what you want as the physical setup of your classroom this year, so that you can arrange that first.
- Walk yourself through a typical day. Decide where to place the student desks and where to have the common area (for example, placement of a rug) to best facilitate your plans. The placement of these items will affect everything that happens in your classroom.
- Visit other classrooms, and ask for advice from experienced teachers.
- Establish a classroom environment that promotes student involvement, encourages self-control, and minimizes disruptions that are caused by disorganization.
- Make sure that your classroom reflects care and respect for you and your students.
Physical Setup of the Classroom
Setting up your classroom in a systematic way can reduce confusion and make the instructional process easier.
- Set up the furniture and rug.
- Student desks and chairs
- Teacher’s desk and chair
- File cabinet
- Small group workstation
- Learning center desks and chairs
- Organize all supplies, having requested them from the office.
- Teacher supplies at the teacher’s desk
- Student supplies at the student desks or in closets
- Room supplies in closets
- Organize books and consumables (to be distributed).
- Set up the classroom library.
- Two or three bookcases or plastic tubs
- Small rug
- Beanbag chair
- Set up classroom equipment.
- CD player
- Overhead projector
- Document reader
- Smart Board
- Set up computers.
- Power outlet
- Internet connection
- Mount bulletin boards.
- Background paper and borders
- School news and information board
- Set up the teacher station near the front of the room.
- Set up workspace for the aide or volunteer.
- Learning tools
- Supplies for students
- Set up learning centers.
Purposeful Classroom Arrangement
A room arrangement that lends itself to your teaching style, student movement around the classroom, and facilitation of instruction is of the utmost importance. After all, this is where you and your students spend most of your waking hours.
- Organize your classroom so that movement can take place easily and in an orderly fashion.
- Take into account the needs of all persons involved.
- The arrangement of the classroom must meet many needs, including the following:
- Students working individually
- Students working in pairs
- Small group work
- Students working in centers
- Multiple types of instruction
- Equal access to instruction
- Equipment usage
There are several areas of the classroom that students move through or use frequently. Special consideration must be given to these high-traffic areas.
- Keep high-traffic areas free of clutter.
- Make these areas accessible, planned, and well organized.
- Remember that high-traffic areas become easy targets for misbehavior if they are not carefully monitored.
- Keep high-traffic areas clearly separated to avoid any confusion about where students should be at any given time.
- Set up the desks so that the teacher can reach students easily and move around the room without obstruction.
- Have more than one pencil sharpener and trash can to avoid clustering of students.
- High-traffic areas could include the following:
- Common area
- Learning centers
- Small group instruction area
- Teacher’s workstation
- Classroom library
- Pencil sharpener
- Trash can
- Recycling bin
- Coat racks
The floor space in your classroom is limited, and each piece of furniture takes up some of that floor space. You must take into account the footprint of each piece as you decide which arrangement of the several pieces of furniture works best for you and your students.
- Walk around your classroom. Note the sizes of the student desks, teacher’s desk, tables, carts, bookcases, computer stations, and other large furniture and equipment.
- Draw a few possible arrangements of the furniture. Viewing options on paper helps avoid moving heavy furniture more than is necessary.
- Decide which of these possible arrangements works best for your classroom this year.
- Take care not to block electrical outlets. You may need them in your final classroom design.
- Allow plenty of room for maneuverability for yourself and your students.
- Do not block emergency exits.
Student Desk Arrangement
The need to position students’ desks so that all students have equal access to instruction is a primary factor in the physical arrangement of your classroom. Three instructional formats—whole class, small groups, and individuals—are discussed below.
- Consider the different kinds of activities your class will be engaged in.
- Visit other classrooms at your grade level, and consider the classroom arrangements there.
- Assign seating, rather than allowing free choice, in order to keep students from sitting next to their friends.
- Implement a seating arrangement that contributes to a heterogeneous classroom.
- Determine what works best for your class this year, given your teaching style.
When you are teaching the entire class at once, the seating arrangement must allow all of the students full access to instruction from a single focal point in the classroom.
- Arrange student desks so that all students face the focal point of the classroom where you will be teaching.
- Typical desk arrangements for the whole class include the following:
- Rows of small tables or desks
- Desks arranged in a U shape so that all eyes are directed toward the board
When groups of four or more students work together, the students must be able to interact with each other without being distracted by other activities in the classroom.
- Arrange student desks in clusters so that the students in each cluster are facing one another.
- Typical desk arrangements for small groups include the following:
- Four students—two desks facing each other
- Six students—two desks facing each other with an additional desk at each end
When students are working individually, each student should have personal workspace that minimizes distractions from other students.
- Typical desk arrangements that allow for individual workspace are the following:
- Rows of individual desks
- Tables placed side by side so that all students are facing the front of the room
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