Monday, August 4, 2014

A Fresh Canvas

Walking back into my classroom after a few weeks away is one of my favorite things. Taking down the papers that cover my bookshelves is almost like going through my closet, nearly like Christmas: "I forgot all about (item that I use every year)!" My room is clean, a fresh canvas, and it is a time to make changes, to try new things. This year I am in a different room than last year (my 7th move in 15 years, if I remember correctly) and it provides opportunities for a new set up. Here is one of my BEFORE photos:

This summer I have read a few articles about consolidating colors, to prevent over stimulation and busy walls which may distract students. I really want to start working towards using only a few colors, but it costs money to replace all those things I have been adding to my classroom over the past 15 years. So, my goal is to transition a little at a time. The perfectionist in me has a hard time not using blues and greens, since we have blue cabinets and a green wall. We will see where it takes me. 

I'm excited to continue to have tables in my classroom, instead of desks. Last year I asked for tables to promote collaboration with my students. Desks are functional but in my opinion, they just hold lots of stuff and keep students confined to a location. With tables, I have observed my students scoot near those they are working with. If they need independent work time, they scoot away. I like to change the layout of my classroom often and it is easier to move a few tables vs. 20 desks. I did not miss desks one single bit last year. 

Last year I started experimenting with flexible seating, as well. This summer I was able to check out a few classrooms that provide a variety of flexible seating. I'm a huge fan! I would rather sit here on my couch and work, than in a stiff, uncomfortable chair. However, some people like a chair. So, I plan to offer a few options. I just found an amazing blog that has several ideas that I like. I'm eagerly awaiting my order from IKEA - a few stools to place around the classroom. Depending on my students, I will order more as needed. I'd love to have some Hokki stools for my movers. I am planning to set up a request on Donor's Choose to add Hokki stools to my classroom.

My 'nest' (as I refer to it with my students):
Years ago I got rid of my desk. BEST. DECISION. EVER. I do not miss it one bit. All it really did was hold stacks of stuff, which stressed me out; plus, I never sat at it (ok, except when I was 8+ months pregnant) Now I use my horseshoe table to meet with students 1:1 or in small groups. It serves as my 'desk' but I try to keep it clean. My 'nest' is my space that I keep supplies and such that I need on a daily basis. I'm excited to have a small white board behind my table for lessons. This summer I plan to make crate chairs but I have yet to complete this project. I need to get busy!

I made a nice little 'To Do List' and 'Things to Buy' list while I was sitting in my quiet room, thinking about what I want to do. I have tons of ideas - from visiting other classrooms and from Pinterest. I know I don't have room, time or money for ALL of the ideas... but I'm excited to get started!

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