Monday, August 10, 2015

Spaces & Places - Planning Your Space

I think I mentioned before that I'm a member of this online community of First Grade teachers... Well, they've all been busy working in the classrooms and posting pictures of their progress.  Maybe they start school sooner than I do?  Or maybe I'm just a slacker.  Who can really be sure? ;)

Anyway.  Some of their classrooms are amazing!  Some of their rooms have so much stuff in them!  Some of their rooms are huge!  Some of their rooms... well, I'll be honest.  I'm jealous that I've got virtually no creative bone in my body.  There.  I said it.

So I decided to get up off my lazy butt at about 2:00 today and go to the bank then to my classroom.  (I hate going to the bank!  Huge waste of my time.)  I picked up my school keys, had a meeting with my principal about class size confidential stuff, then went out for food and drinks with a few friends from work.  Super productive, right? Ha!

Well, I did go back after dinner.  This is what my room looked like upon walking in:

(It's a panoramic picture.  My room isn't really that big.  Honest.)

The custodians were in there cleaning all of my furniture.  That's a first!  I don't think my building's custodians (in any building I've ever taught in) have ever cleaned my furniture!  I have always had to do it myself!  But there it is.  All of my furniture in a giant mess in the center of my carpet.  I had no clue what I was going to do with it.  And then I remembered..

Ta da!!! I own this book!

This is another one that I've had for a few years now.  I have read the introduction several times.  Each time I read it, it's the beginning of the summer (yes, I did it this summer, too) then I put it down because I know I will forget everything when it comes time to set up my classroom.  Well, I remembered to pull it back out this year.  Check me out!  Making progress!

So I got started with planning my classroom, which was the focus of the first chapter.  Let me say first that I love books with lots of pretty color photos as examples.  I especially love that this book includes all of the "before" photos.  It makes me not feel so bad because someone's room was once worse off than mine!

I think the biggest Ah-ha! moment that I had today was written on the second page of Chapter 1.  "Begin with the end in mind."  Is that not what we do when planning instruction?  We begin with what we want the children to know, then we plan backwards.  Why didn't I ever think to do this with room arrangement???  (And that would be why Debbie Diller is making the big bucks on this topic.)

So I began by thinking about the spaces that I know I need in my classroom.  A whole-group teaching area, a small-group teaching space, a classroom library, a word wall, computers, the math area, a safe place, a place for book boxes, a place for students' supplies and materials, and space for the students to complete their work independently.  As I was working through this list, other ideas popped into my head.  Things like a writing station... and where on Earth am I going to put my chart stand?  And what about student materials?  Where will those go?  As something came to mind, I wrote it on a Post-It note.  I also wrote all of the pieces of furniture that I have on separate Post-It notes.

Finally, I went and got a giant piece of construction paper and drew my classroom.  Everything that was permanently attached to the room got written on the construction paper in marker.  Everything else was on the Post-Its.  Before moving any furniture, I spent about 30 minutes rearranging my "furniture" on sticky notes.  Huge time saver!! And definitely easier on my sore muscles.  Leg day is no joke!

Some of my Post-Its made it off the page outside the door... That's the furniture that I want to find a new home for.  Perhaps there is another teacher that doesn't have a kidney table... Or maybe some desks.  We'll see.  We aren't allowed to yard sale our furniture until next week, though.  Over the last few years, I've gotten rid of several pieces of furniture.  I no longer have a teacher's desk.  I only have enough student desks for 22 students.  (That means I can't have more than 22 this year, right?  Ha!  Wishful thinking.)  I have two kidney tables, but that's because I had like five adults in my room at any given time last year with the TAs, tutors, interventionists, and whoever else.  I plan to get rid of one of them because I won't have that this year - I hope.  I also plan to get rid of maybe five or six more student desks.

So, I'm only sort of sorry for this poor-quality photo.  I did want to show you, though, that this book provides some great ideas!  Debbie Diller has gone beyond simply narrating how to organize your space... She has taken it a step farther by giving you suggestions for what to organize in each of your spaces!  Give her a gold star!  

I'm not to this point in my own classroom yet because all of my stuff is still in the cabinets.  I have only addressed the issue of the furniture so far because that was all out and in my way.  (The fabric and borders on the bulletin boards have been up for the last two years.)  

By the time I started just walking around aimlessly in my classroom (meaning it's time to go home), I only finished putting the furniture where I needed it to be according to my Post-It map.  I have to admit, I'm not hating it.  Of course, I probably will hate it once I realize that I still need to figure out what to do with those student desks... and I'm crossing my fingers that someone needs a kidney table. Otherwise, I'm stuck with it again this year!

One more thing that I love about this book:

Just about all situations were considered!  In Chapter 1, Debbie has suggestions for the special items you'd find in a pre-K or Kindergarten classroom.  She includes what to do with a dual-language classroom and planning for students with special needs (wheelchairs, etc.).  She makes suggestions for open classrooms with no walls (I used to have one of those - it was hard!) and portable buildings. She also discusses technology, teacher's desks, and using color in your classroom.  (Did you know that red and orange evoke excitement and stimulate hunger?)

The next chapter in the book is "Arranging Your Room."  I may have inadvertently jumped ahead.  I may try to read that chapter tonight to see if I'm finished with it.  I'm sure I still need to pull all of my crap teaching materials out of the cabinets and put things where they go for my room to be considered "arranged." We'll see.

How is your room coming along?  Or have you already begun school and are therefore finished?  I'd love to see some of your pictures and hear about your progress!  Leave me a link to your blog!

1 comment:

  1. I love how you planned it all out before moving everything.

    My Bright Blue House