The week before school starts:
On Tuesday 27th of August I was finally able to start work on my classroom. I knew that it was going to be a tough job, so taking the advice of experienced teachers I came prepared: rubber gloves, cleaning cloths and black sacks. While this is not strictly part of my remit as a teacher, I do feel that it was an important step. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are drowning in a sea of other people’s old stuff and I am definitely going to keep this in mind before bequeathing any of my classroom successors to a collection of cassette tapes or a broken snow globe! One of my colleagues kindly dropped in to see how I was doing. After looking at a mountain of old puzzles and flashcards she advised me to bin the lot and get rid of at least 6 tables. I also made the decision to move furniture which was blocking light away from the windows. The result: a classroom that felt brighter, cleaner and spacious.
By Thursday I was ready to begin putting up displays, organising cupboards and creating signs and labels. While it was tempting to stick up everything available on Twinkl and Teacher’s Pet I resisted the urge and tried to think about what I wanted my classroom to feel like. Calm, creative and nurturing were the words that instantly sprung to mind. For this reason I opted for a cool pastel colour palette, matching display boards to create a sense of unity in the room and wall resources that were purposeful and age appropriate. This meant sacrificing some beautifully laminated resources. It will be easy enough to add to displays as the needs of the children change throughout the year. I also tried to think about how to make the classroom accessible to everyone by thinking about how high things were positioned, the size and clarity of fonts and using symbols and visual imagery to support understanding.
By Friday, many of my colleagues were in school and this was a great chance to visit other classrooms and ask for input on the learning environment that I wanted to create. This was a really useful day as I was able to draw on some really great experience, for example, one teacher suggested putting a number line above the board so that children could always use it as a resource and another pointed out that it was important to leave plenty of space between the door and the back of the carpet so that children could line up quickly and calmly.
I am really glad that my mentor gave me space to create my classroom environment and it has really helped me to feel a sense of ownership over the space. When she came in the following Monday, we were able to discuss my choices together and I was able to make adjustments based on constructive self-evaluation. This is something I am going to have to do throughout the year as I watch the children interact with the space I have created. I want my classroom to be a working space, so that means adapting things.