The physical environment of your classroom is extremely important to effective teaching and learning. Many first-year teachers tend to underestimate this importance. Here are some simple guidelines to help you make your classroom teacher, learner, and community friendly.
The 4 BE's of quality learning space
- BE sensitive to the messages communicated to students by the classroom environment.
- BE able to evaluate the effectiveness of the classroom setting.
- BE alert to times when physical arrangement may be causing learning problems.
- BE able and willing to modify the environment when necessary.
To help you implement the 4 BE's, here are three principles plus guidelines that have proven to be effective in setting up a classroom:
PRINCIPLE 1: The physical environment of the classroom supports tasks to be carried out there.
1) Frequently used classroom materials are accessible to students at all times.
2) Shelves and storage areas are well organized so it's clear where materials and equipment belong.
3) Pathways throughout the room, such as those to pencil sharpener, drinking fountains, or trashcans, are designed to avoid congestion.
4) Seating arrangements allow students a clear view of instructional presentations.
5) Seating arrangement and teaching space allows you to easily establish collective and individual contact with all students.
6) Seating arrangements are consistent with the amount of contact among students desired (for example, if you don't want group discussion, don't arrange students in a small group or circle.)
7) Stock your room with a variety of activities or materials that are relevant to content or curriculum.
8) Alter physical space to meet student needs and generate student interest.
PRINCIPLE 2: The Physical Environment of the Classroom Provides Security and Pleasure.
1) Add elements of softness in room.
2) Keep room temperature comfortable (a fan or space heater can help if the thermostat can't.)
3) Arrange classroom for freedom from hallway and other interference.
4) Create a retreat area for students to have separation from the rest of the class (but not removed from your visual observation.)
5) Use a variety of colors and textures to create a pleasing environment.
6) Use plants, colorful posters, and instructionally relevant bulletin board displays to decorate.
7) Make sure room complies with safety standards for fire, earthquake, and other emergency situations.
8) Secure equipment or materials with locks and latches as appropriate.
PRINCIPLE 3: The Physical Environment Reflects the People who Teach and Learn There.
1) Personalize classroom space so that it communicates information about you and your students.
2) Display student work as well as evidence of your own accomplishments or experiences (e.g. teacher certificate, diplomas, merit awards, family photos, etc.)