For those of you who follow this blog only for food, feel free to skip over this. Today’s post isn’t about food, it’s about education. Teaching has been a part of my life since graduating college, and instead of creating a whole new blog designated just for that, I decided to add a space in this blog for my other love. If I were more tech-savvy, I would figure out how to create a preference email, so you only received what you wanted, but honestly, I just figured out Google Drive this year, so I am really behind the times…
Fourteen years ago, I started my first teaching job. Four years ago, I bought a house and moved to a new city, 45 minutes away from school. Two years ago, I transferred districts to work closer to home. This year, I finally get my own classroom.
Two years of sharing a room with two different teachers, in two different buildings, has allowed me a lot of time to think. If this were my own classroom, what would I want? How would I use this space? How would my students use this space?
Pinterest, honestly, has given me a lot of ideas, but it has also overwhelmed me. How can I create an inviting space for students to learn without breaking the bank? Or sucking up all my time? Fortunately, when I moved into this room, much of the furniture I inherited. Some of the posters I saved from my old classroom, and some things I bought new. Luckily, JoAnn’s always has things on sale and gives a discount to teachers, so that has helped me a lot.
This is what my classroom looked like when I first walked in: (disregard my son playing Legos on the floor, haha!)
Lots of room to play with, for sure. And lots of natural light. A HUGE bonus for me, as I was in a classroom for 8 years with no windows. The following pictures are what it looks like now. I am sure I will continue to tweak it as the year goes on.
I have different “areas,” I guess you could say, in the classroom. When you first walk in I have the student center. This is where students can get basic supplies (i.e., highlighters, post-its, construction paper) and where I store group work baskets. The white binders are for when students are absent and need to know what they missed. Inside has the daily agenda and any assignments/worksheets we did that day.
The front of the room as a place for students to place their cell phones. Because this is middle school, working on how to appropriately use a phone is a must, so they place their phones there when not in use. I bought it on Amazon for $15. The bulletin board on the left will have student book recommendations. Those are filled out on 3×5 cards and stapled. (The background is fabric I bought at JoAnns.)
The other side of the white board has the weekly agenda. Our school provides planners for students, so Monday mornings, they write down what we are doing each day and any homework they may have. (FYI, their main homework is reading 30 minutes a night on their choice book. I try to keep all other work in class.) I saw on Pinterest the sign saying “You Matter,” which I thought was great, so I created my own. The large letters are made out of paper mache that I painted. The black letters I left as is. Both I found at JoAnns.
This large area in the front of the room is actually my favorite. It’s here that I write with students, modeling the writing activity they are learning. It’s also a great place to share current student work. Document cameras are a wonderful thing!
The last corner is the reading nook. This library has amassed over the past four years. I have bought many books from a second-hand store, a large handful from Amazon, some came from friends, some I inherited from a former teacher, and some came out of our school library circulation. Honestly, I probably spend about $150-$200 a year on books for kids. But to me, it’s worth it, if I can get high-interest books in the hands of kids.
The poster sign about choosing the right book I found on Pinterest as well, so if you know who created it, please let me know and I’ll give credit. I just love it!
Books are cataloged by genres, and the tape I use is actually colored electrical tape. Some are washi tape, but I have to put packing tape over it so it doesn’t come off.
Here’s the color-to-genre list, which came from the blog The Secondary English Coffee Shop. Great website if you’re looking for ideas to incorporate into your classroom. I don’t alphabetize (as keeping them together genre wise is enough for me!) and all books are logged using classroom booksource. I had an aide enter it all in, so that saved me a bunch of time.
Although I have not started updating my syllabus and all the other back-to-school things I need to do, at least my classroom is unpacked and functional. If you have any questions about this space, feel free to comment or email me. xoxo
P.S. If you’re looking for a reading and writing survey to give students at the beginning of the school year, check out my Teachers Pay Teachers shop. The survey is free! I took the plunge and am starting to post my favorite lessons on the site, so check back often. And feel free to give your feedback! I’d love to hear from you.