Posts Tagged ‘environment’

My Classroom

June 25, 2009

These pictures start before my first year (08-09).  A recent blog post from Elissa about her first classroom made me want to spend some time reflecting on my own choices my classroom and how I can make improvements in my second year…

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View from the back. At the front is my stool and podium. I love having the stool because I can still sit and discuss while being able to see all of my students. (It also helps me feel less desire to sit at my own desk.)

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To the right is my view from the podium.

Out of the whole year, I think I enjoyed this seating arrangement the most. They can see each other reasonably well, in addition to the front and back boards.

Each side is a row three desks deep, and those rows represent their groups for many of our projects. It’s easy for them to flips their desks around to accomplish this.

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I used a sage green fabric that is almost like a burlap texture.

It doesn’t fade or show holes like paper, plus texture adds warmth.

I trimmed all the bulletin boards with basic black for cohesiveness.

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To create an additional bulletin board, I bought a cheap foam presentation type poster board in black and using hot glue, I created a sage green ribbon border.

I used chalk to add “Quotable Quotes” and I periodically change the quote posters attached. (Thematic or by authors.)


This is the view on “my” side of the room.

I have storage cabinets for my own stuff.

Bookcases with dictionaries and personal favorites of mine.

Construction paper and posterboard.

And yellow baskets filled with markers, colored pencils, scissors, and glue for group projects.

005This is an important part of my workspace, though it sometimes gets cluttered with student projects.

The ugly cardboard sorting tower is a lifesaver. I keep the handouts for the day in the top slots (by class) and keep extras paper clipped together for students who need a copy later, whatever the reason.

At the bottom, I keep graded papers that need to be returned; once again by course and paper clipped by actual class times.

The black metal file folder sorter is where I keep the papers that I need to grade by class. It helps me see how far behind I am at any given time, and it’s easy to throw just 1-2 folders into my bag at night.


This is my *cluttered* computer area. I spend lots of time here!

Next year, the microwave will be in the far corner w/the lamp on it.

The milk crate holding folders will be on the floor under the counter.

Everything will be moved left and streamlined.

There are also more pics of my kids above this station! 🙂

Hope you enjoy classroom clutter!!!


The reality is that sometimes you have lots of projects at once.

I feel it would be wrong to only post favorites, so if they are individual, they can only use regular printer paper to keep them small.

In groups, we sometimes do full poster projects. The best thing I can come up with is to keep them lined up very geometrically to reduce the feeling of chaos.

002This bulletin board eluded me for an entire year. I HATE the stuff on top. THAT will never happen again.

This is my biggest problem area. I feel I should give a bulletin board space to my Creative Writing elective, but it’s so hard for me to put stuff up there. I think I may just let go of the idea of using it for that class next year and start fresh. ANY ideas would be welcome!

To end on a more positive note, the blue lines you see on the markerboard are wonderful! I used painters tape to make this semi permanent grid and have my website url at the top and our daily “menu” of in class activities, due dates, and homework assignments within their respective rectangle.

I also have one of these (painter’s tape grids) on my backboard that lists our daily objectives (you know, students will:) and sometimes add to the side of it a list of UPCOMING due dates to offer more long term reminders.

Oh! One more tip. Use hot glue for you “all year” laminated posters. As long as the paint is in good shape, it will not hurt it. Just a nice little drop, don’t go overboard or anything. At the end of the year, it pops right off the poster and the wall! WAY better than posters falling down constantly (like my student work does… stupid tape).

Anything you want to add that you do in your classroom?


Reflections on Classroom Management

May 23, 2009

General ideas:

It’s critical that students enter the room knowing that I will not permit them to leave for trivial reasons, do other homework, sleep, or refuse to participate.  To accomplish this, I have to try to establish a reputation and atmosphere of being both strict and consistent.

As the first students try to push and bend my boundaries, the prescribed punishments should be doled out immediately.  They should understand the expectations before they ever have a chance to break them and should not be surprised when they are enforced.

I would also like to note that I try to choose my battles carefully, and generally, kids know when it’s seriously time to settle down.  If I have to appear angry/extra stern or be loud to get their attention, (I try not to raise my voice) they understand that I mean business. In other words, we can’t freak out every time they get a little off topic or our responses will become mundane and expected. Then what do you have left in your classroom management arsenal?

Smile a lot and be friendly, even when some tell you “not to smile until Christmas.”  The trick is to try NOT to smile or laugh when they do something inappropriate – no matter how funny!

Go ahead and give the younger/bigger/rowdier crowds a seating chart and don’t be afraid to make changes. I’m not convinced that all classes can handle choosing their own seats. If you have older/more mature/smaller classes, then it’s totally up to your discretion. *FYI: I set my room up in straight rows for a while as there were AP tests and then we were getting ready for finals, and EVERY class had students walk in and whine, “This feels like a regular classroom” or “I feel like I’m in 3rd grade.”

Beyond that, the instruction itself is inherently linked to classroom management. You can give “the look,” use proximity, or even pass out demerits (detentions) all day and the problems could potentially remain.

Students should be busy, as I have previously stated, but this should not be applied through busy work and multiple worksheets. For my 75 minute blocks, I aim for 3-4 distinct activities (except days where we are engaged in testing  or large group projects, etc).  Sometimes students should work alone, in pairs, in small groups, and as a class.

Work should vary and be relevant – but that’s not enough – we must explain WHY it’s important, relevant, etc. Students should understand the objectives of the activity before they embark on the task.  It is important to recognize that there is no need to feel defensive over this question as a teacher (provided it the question is posed respectfully).  If we don’t have an answer for them, then what IS the point of the activity?

For me, personally, I’ve been thinking about some problems that I had. Here are my intentions:

*Students will receive 2 “Get out of class free” cards at the beginning of each semester. If they need to run to their locker/car/the library/bathroom (they don’t always go to the bathroom when they make this claim – I am considering using a conspicuous bathroom pass of some sort) they will either use their card or take a tardy. 3 tardies=  1 hard labour detention (scraping desks or wiping down floor boards, no fun here!)

*Students will never be permitted to go to the vending machine during class. If they are desperately hungry, they should already have something simple with them. (Obvious exceptions for medical concerns.)

*Students doing OTHER work during my class will have the work confiscated and returned to the appropriate classroom teacher at the end of the day. This is unacceptable.  If students are copying answers for work, even if it’s for another class, I am considering ripping it up on the spot. I will check with administration before I choose this (severe) path.

*Students who fall asleep during class are required to stay 2-3 minutes after class to “make up the time they owe me”. (Thankfully, this was pretty rare this year.)

*If students do not turn in their homework at the beginning of class, it’s late. If they forget their books and we have an open book quiz/test, they go without.  If they do not have a paper printed at the beginning of class, it’s late. Students who have emailed me papers to print are responsible for coming to me before class starts to print, or papers will be counted late.

*Cursing during class will result in an immediate demerit and conversation with me in the hall. While I know that they are accustomed to speaking like this, it is unacceptable in the classroom environment.