At the start of each new school year Lauren and I rethink the classroom environment, making changes from previous years, so the space feels new and invigorating. When we first started teaching together back in 2002 it was all about creating the most colorful atmosphere possible.
Our walls were covered with so much multicolored paper that visitors commented it looked like The Partridge Family tour bus. We spray painted old furniture in bright hues, hung Crayola colored alphabet letters from the ceiling lights and added vibrant borders to our bulletin boards. It was an overstimulating feast for the eyes and we loved it.
As time went on we started to realize that perhaps this approach was a tad overdone. We began to study the Reggio Emilia philosophy from Italy that suggested a more toned down, sedate learning space. Out went color and in came the plants, mirrors to reflect natural light, bulletin boards covered in plain brown paper without borders, table lamps and twinkle lights. It was a relaxing respite for the eyes and we loved it.
But, as with all things, the pendulum is beginning to swing once more. This year our classroom (see above) is colorful without being overwhelming, natural tones and primary colors are juxtaposed throughout and we continue to provide open but well defined work spaces.
Room arrangement is a truly collaborative effort between Lauren and I that usually takes place during the first days of the new school year. However there was one space that I had envisioned during the summer and couldn't wait to set up.
This is a reading 'nook' anchored by the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom coconut tree that I have on loan from my friend Dawn. This was the first area we established and then build the rest of the room off of that. So far it has proved a popular area for the students to go and read books of their choosing; from comic books (that basket is full of them) to chapter books.
We also decided to repaint our beat up blackboard with something called Blackboard Paint. This stuff can be used to cover a variety of surfaces to create an instant blackboard. The can invites you to cover kitchen cabinets, closets and any blank surface that a child might like to scribble on.
I used the left over paint from our blackboard to make a drawing area on the back of a metal fire door. We also plan to record student heights on this door. Just another fun, novel idea we stumbled upon quite by accident.
Now, once again, we consider our classroom to be a welcoming oasis where exploration and learning can proceed in a purposeful manner and we love it.
I wonder what ideas the next year will bring.