I had the pleasure of moving from sixth-grade to fifth-grade this school year. There are 24 students in my class and 25 in my literacy group. I would like to transform the environment to fit their needs and the culture of our classroom. We run a mini-society in our classroom, which includes a classroom name, flag, money, and a job for each student. The students work in partners, groups and collaborate on a daily basis.
There are many students in my classroom that have experienced trauma and need an environment that helps calm their sensory systems and allows them to learn.
My students need calm lighting, soothing music, brain breaks, flexible seating options, and fidgets to help them concentrate during lessons and independent work time. The students work best when they are able to experience the most effective seating choice and are motivated to keep this choice. The students have expressed that their current desks are distracting, so I want to give them the best possible learning environment.
I transformed my first classroom two years ago, and I hope to do the same in my new classroom. My classroom needed new painted walls, deep cleaning and a lot of organizing. I moved over my books shelves, refinished my teacher's desk, added rocking chairs and an area rug to make the room inviting. Unfortunately, the only furniture for the students was a random assortment of mismatched desks and chairs that have been used for thirty years! I dug and dug in the storage sheds in order to find enough desks that somewhat matched. The tops of the desks had been stripped of their finish, have rusted uneven legs, and some even have inappropriate language carved into the sides.
The single desks tend to become cluttered with personal items, are distracting on the tile floor and are not conducive to encourage group work.
My style of teaching supports the students not only academically, but also socially and emotionally. By designing the classroom environment to be calm, organized and welcoming, I have found that the students are more able to concentrate, learn and stay motivated. I use the flexible seating choices, "sitting around the room," as a motivational tool and my past students have loved it. By grouping the students at tables, they are encouraged to collaborate with their classmates and learn to support one another throughout the school year.
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