This post is part of our summer 2020 series showcasing unique classrooms. Be sure to check out all our teachers who have been selected to see what they’ve done in their rooms.
Describe your classroom set up:
My classroom set-up is unique in the sense of my room’s layout. The room used to be the old computer lab back in the day. Next, it was split into two rooms and finally, it was turned one room when it was given to me. I coach speech and debate so the large room has been helpful for my performers. It’s longer than it is wide so I can only set-up the desks a number of ways, but the extra space has been great for collaboration, movement, and creativity. The student’s desk is set-up into groups of four and are closer to the front of the room. My back area is open with a couch area and additional space for working on projects.
Why did you choose this particular layout?
I love it when students are able to work in groups. Collaboration is a huge component of my lessons and student class time. Groups also work best for the layout of the room. it allows me to move freely throughout the classroom when I’m speaking or reach a student more easily. This layout also works best for my AVID and Speech & Debate classes. These classes work together in groups a lot.
What is your favorite part of your design?
I love the little college corner that I have been working on the last year. It’s also a place students can use for collaboration assignments and projects. I use it for silent reading sessions or during literature circles as well. I also love this area because it’s such a safe place for my students to sit when they need to calm down or have a tough day at school.
Did anything surprise you about how your students reacted to your classroom (behavior, enjoyment, etc.)?
I was surprised by how effective the couches and pillows were to help my students deal with anxiety and feel more secure. It’s been a great safe space for my students for the last two years. I was also surprised by how excited my students have been when they see me put up their work on the wall. They love pointing out work and when parents come to visit the classroom, that’s the first thing they want to point out to them.
What is the biggest piece of design advice you can provide for someone who is just starting to think “outside of the box” in terms of classroom design?
First, always ask for help. Use your community of friends and family. I’m not a crafty person a lot, but I have family and close friends who are always willing to help me bring my visions to light or help me hang out stuff.
Second, gather information online to get inspire! Pinterest, Instagram, and teacher articles have helped me so much come up with fun ideas to add to my classroom design. Teacher pay teachers has been wonderful as well! There are some super creative and cute posters to check out!
Also, don’t be shy and visit your co-worker’s classrooms. Some of my favorite elements I have added to my classroom where from co-workers’ rooms! We are part of such a helpful, caring, and creative community of teachers! Use them! Lastly, trust your gut. Don’t try to become to next big “Intsa-Teacher.” “You do, you boo!” Trust yourself and create a classroom that makes you happy and comfortable because students feel that when they walk in.
Decorations only do so much for the climate of a classroom. Teachers are what matters most when it comes to the design of the room. I remember I had a student tell me that they love my classroom, not because of the colorful posters or awesome couches but because of the light and energy I provided as a teacher. Decoration will all do so much, so trust your gut, and don’t forget you’re the key to how students feel in the room.
Jaclyn Hariri is a 8th Grade ELA, 6th Grade AVID and 6th-8th Speech & Debate Team in California. You can follow her on Instagram @techaboutmath.