This year, one of our special education consultants came to see us during our pedagogical days before students started school and talked to us about how students need to feel like they belong in their classroom and not like tenants in their teacher's classroom for the year. She suggested that students work together to make decisions about how rules will be chosen, about rewards, where they feel they should sit in the classroom and even let them make decisions about the classroom layout, so that the environment makes sense to them.
So far, we have decided what our rules are, how students will be rewarded, decided on the class jobs that we will need, and I we even discussed how students should choose their desks at the beginning of the year.
This is working out. I see that there may be tweaking to be done concerning seating, I've had to be careful when guiding discussions, and I'm having to let go of some of my OCD compulsions, but overall, I am under the impression that students are feeling comfortable, welcome, and especially important and valued.
Because my classroom is not ready to be revealed yet, I will show you what my first grade classroom looked like before and after I got to it.
Since I don't have a class reveal yet for this year, I will show you what my first grade class looked like before and after I got to it.
I opted for tables rather than chaired for two reasons: 1) I thought it would benefit students because it would be less of a transition from kindergarten. 2) I found that it would be easier to keep first graders organized without desks, where they could lose materials and get confused. I kept duo-tangs, copy books and workbooks in organized bins on my back shelves. We saved a lot of time and the system worked well. Students kept their pencil cases in the bins in the CEnter of their tables.
I added a reading corner to my classroom, which later had cushions and pillows that students could use to get comfy and enjoy reading. I used book jackets to make my banner around the reading corner.
My background paper was the wrapping paper that you find near cash registers at Michael's craft store. The rolls only cost $1.50 each. The six rolls I bought lasted 2 school years in two different classrooms!
Keep a lookout for my grade 4 reveal, coming soon. Also, my next post will likely be about a super "green" school I came across this summer.