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Rearranging Your Classroom – 3 Tips For Teachers at the Beginning of the School Year
Unless you are the most meticulous of teachers and have contacted former teachers, former owners, relatives, friends and former librarians, chances are you don’t really know your students on the first day of class. Sure, there are a few stalkers who already have the perfect seating chart in place, but most of us need at least a few days to assess personalities, observe academic skills, and suffer from mismatches. Also, you may notice that that box or cabinet that you thought was in a prime location is really more of a nuisance than a help.
After a while, even the best teacher will often have to make some adjustments in their classroom. So here are three tips for teachers in the first weeks of school to make your classroom a better learning environment.
1) Mix up your seating plan
Decide if you want children in rows and columns, in 4 or 5 desk “tables” or in some other formation. Should this child be sitting next to (or even spitting distance from) this child? Can these two children help each other if they are side by side? Will these kids get high sniffing Elmer’s glue sticks if they sit next to each other?
Generally, a combination of behavior and academics will determine the seating arrangement, especially if you have the kids paired up in some way. You can change your seating plan multiple times, but don’t do it every day. Give a new combination at least a few days to make sure it doesn’t work before changing it again.
2) Moving furniture can free up space
If your teacher’s desk or any other table is taking up space that would otherwise be better served, move it! Maybe it could be behind a shelf or a hanging screen where a student desk couldn’t fit.
While it’s usually best to get large pieces of furniture sorted BEFORE school starts, there’s no law against moving them around the middle of the year. Remember, the easier it is for you to move around the classroom, the easier it will be for you to help students and keep them focused.
3) Keep those paths clear!
This follows directly from point number 2. Do not paint yourself in a corner, or even in the center of the room, arranging desks or furniture with no gaps or openings. You want to be able to move around the room (from one potential trouble spot to another) quickly and smoothly. If you’re using a “horseshoe” pattern, be sure to leave some space to easily get in and out of the shoe. Otherwise, this horseshoe will NOT bring you luck!
Remember that you may find yourself rearranging your class more than once this year. It’s okay to take stock every few months and reflect on how the setup is working for you.
No matter how often you move things around, these three tips will always keep you on track.
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