Summer is truly a glorious season complete with road trips, summer camp and endless days by the pool. But the school year looms ahead and you’ve got your incoming new students on your mind. As you’re relaxing and taking in the bliss of the break from school, you’re also contemplating how you want to improve your teaching plans for next year.
You know that every year there is new research showing all of the wonderful ways teachers can improve their classrooms and make learning a better experience for their students. So you start by doing some reading, looking over your curriculum from the previous year, and thinking of ways you can integrate new ideas and innovation into your classroom.
One way to improve the classroom experience is to make sure that the physical environment is designed so that students can be more inspired and productive. Design has a huge influence on how effective learning is for children, especially when it comes to the diverse styles of learning that students have. You want to make sure that the classroom is set up to give them the best start possible.
But what is that best start? You’d like to accumulate new ideas and we’re here to share some strategies with you. Here are some tips about classroom design to help you plan and create your best classroom student environment yet.
Organizing Desks and Tables
The quintessential part of a classroom is the student desk. Every child needs somewhere to sit while learning. There are a number of different ways you can fulfill this need in a classroom and some will be better for certain age groups than others.
You can stick with the basic single child’s desk, add a size-appropriate chair, and call it a day. Or spring for a table that multiple students share in a collaborative learning space. Desks are great if you want students to be able to rearrange their learning spaces easily. Place them in different arrangements, such as typical rows, or in smaller squares, or even a couple of large horseshoe shapes. Then let them scoot desks around to form group work partnerships.
Tables can be used instead of desks, but they can also be integrated into the desk-centric classroom as an alternative space for doing collaborative projects. Integrate standing tables into the room for more active projects such as science experiments, art projects, or to create makerspaces.
Flexible Learning Spaces
Aside from the regular desk spaces, integrate other kinds of learning spaces into the classroom. Create cozy nooks where students can curl up in a beanbag chair to read a book or work quietly on a math worksheet. Set out a comfy, inviting rug where kids can sit together and talk about a project idea or discuss a class reading assignment.
By letting students move around the room and use these different learning spaces, it will allow every child to learn in the way that is best for them. It will also break up the day, letting them take a brain-break from too much concentration, get them moving and stretching, and help them wake up and refresh their thinking ability.
Flexible Administrative Spaces
Do you really use your teacher’s desk for more than storage? Many teachers don’t and the desk just takes up a huge chunk of the classroom. Look into using a smaller, more flexible desk that can be moved around, thereby making it more useful. Get a filing cabinet for storing important documents in a less space-invasive way and let that giant desk go.
With flexible learning spaces, it can be really frustrating to be stuck with a whiteboard that’s mounted on the wall. Invest in a rolling whiteboard that can come with you to different groups. Easily draw a diagram, write instructions, or demonstrate parts of speech.
Find other items in your classroom that could be turned into a flexible, moveable model and let go of the fixed version.
If you have built-in cabinets and closets in your classroom, you’re in luck. If not, it’s time to figure out how to store items so they are tucked away. A neat, tidy classroom helps students to feel more organized and less mentally chaotic. It provides a standard of focus on academics and is less visually distracting.
If you're on a budget, look for items at yard sales that could help make your classroom more organized. Make sure that everything in the room has a specific place where it belongs, then find the containers that will make that a reality. You can use old armoires to organize materials and have them safely out of sight. Most of the items that will help you to organize the classroom space can be easily purchased at discount stores, thrift stores, and yard sales.
Is your room gray and dingy looking? Color heavily affects the way your students feel while in the classroom. If this is the case, it’s time to tackle the depressing feel in the room. Spend some time over the summer putting on some new coats of paint. Focus on happy, warm colors that feel inviting and balancing. You know those rooms that just feel good? Make your classroom feel that way.
If you’re allowed to paint cupboards or other storage spaces, a new coat of paint will do wonders. Check out the furniture in your room and see if you can update and brighten them. If the curtains or rugs are dirty and tattered, look for new ones during the summer. Find any way that you can to brighten and clean up your classroom to make it homey and warm for your students this upcoming fall.
Another problem area in classrooms is lighting. If your room has plenty of windows, take advantage of all of the natural light. If it’s too bright, find window solutions that neutralize the glare while still letting in plenty of light.
Look into your light fixtures to see if you can replace the bulbs with ones that imitate natural light. Harsh fluorescent lights can cause headaches and are distracting. Students will do better with lighting that is a balance between gently stimulating and non-irritating. With lots of new bulbs on the market that mimic the light spectrum of the sun, you should have success with finding just what you need to update the lighting in your classroom.
Putting it Together - Inviting Student Feedback
With your newly painted, clutter-free classroom that includes flexible learning spaces and work areas that inspire productivity, your students will have a completely new experience of learning this school year. You can easily make these changes during the summer and feel great about your classroom accomplishments on the first day of school.
The next step is to involve students. Before you get started with your project, make sure that you have some feedback points that students have made in the past. Use those ideas to generate your own decisions. After students are back from the summer break, ask for their input. What do they love and what would they change? Also leave some areas for them to help with. Put up some decorations on the bulletin boards, but leaves lots of blank space for them to contribute. Organize art projects or other great displays that they can proudly hang for all to see.
Your classroom will be the talk of the school this fall, as teachers discover the amazing ways you have updated your room and created innovative learning spaces for your students. The kids themselves will comment on how much they enjoy your classroom and the new kinds of learning experiences. By demonstrating your commitment to always improving your teaching methods, you’ll also show your professional excellence and expertise in your field. It’s a win-win for everyone.
When you’re ready to update the student furnishings in your classroom, reach out to the leader of classroom furniture distribution. We offer great prices, excellent quality, and the best customer service. If you need to talk out ideas or figure out classroom design strategies, we’re here to help. Reach out to us at Classroom Essentials Online at our website at classroomessentialsonline.com or by calling (866) 404-7671 We look forward to helping you have the best school year ever!