I have been thinking lately about how I have been influenced by other people on the internet and in the teaching field. I have had countless numbers of mentors and people who helped me become the man I am today. Last year, I had been surfing around the net looking for ideas for my classroom when I came across Sheila Jane who had put a lot of emphasis on the importance of classroom design. The video she posted made me really stop and think differently about what my classroom should look and feel like.
In the past, I have always had posters on the wall and my class rules. I also have the Presidents of the United States on the wall around the room that I use as a teaching aid. But other than that I never really thought of class atmosphere where you can make the class feel like a room in your house. Her logic was that you spend at least eight hours a day in the space of the classroom so shouldn’t it feel more like your home away from home? And, wouldn’t students want to spend more time there if the ambiance in the room feels better in general?
Some takeaways from the video that I never thought about:
1. The use of a kitchen table for students to work on. This has the effect of having students feel like they are working at home while also giving them a good work space. I know I spent lots of time in my kitchen at home and would have loved working at a large table in the classroom.
2. Bookcases: These are an effective way to create an atmosphere where the teacher also has the feel of an office. I had always used bookcases around the edge of my room, but I have since used them by my desk. I also have set up a small area around my desk that is my own space that uses some of the times she suggested in the video. It made my space feel more like my own and more enjoyable to be in. I think this is probably the most important lesson I took away from her video, “I am a professional. I deserve an office where I am an adult and I can get my work done. So don’t feel guilty about having an office space.”
3. She also uses lamps in a way that makes the room feel better. I have thought about trying to use some of these in the back corner that gets really dark when I turn the lights off, since I only have one window in my room.
4. I also think here organization abilities in general were very helpful. I have my own way of organizing my classroom, but I think that her usages of containers were particularly impressive. Having materials in containers ready to go so the kids could get them out when needed was pretty brilliant.
5. She also had containers for anything a student might need at a table. I have been thinking about attaching some to my tables, but I have been afraid they might drift away in the hubbub of the classroom. I might have to give it a try though as well. I am getting tired of kids asking for pencils.
6. I think the thing about this that was the best was that all of her ideas were pretty simple to implement and were not things that would break the bank. I spend money every year like any teacher and have bought things like furniture for my students to use in the past from IKEA. Most of their furniture is not expensive and can be used in the classroom relatively easily.
Overall, I think that Sheila Jane has been doing a great job in her classroom and has really expanded her website in just a couple short years. She now has podcasts, freebies, videos, and periscopes that you can utilize if you want help making your classroom a better place. I found her advice helpful and her demeanor refreshing, since we can often be surrounded with negativity and it is obvious that she thoroughly enjoys her job. You can tell that she really cares about her students and puts a lot of time into making sure they feel at home while they are learning. Thanks Sheila Jane for all your tips and helping me make my classroom a better place!