Mikaelah Cash

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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:

I have a mat space with stars for students to sit on as last year I struggled to get students to sit in the right area, this removes “option” for them to sit behind desks etc. I have a bug double whiteboard with storage behind it and under it which is really handy.

Then there’s a little whiteboard in front of my mat space and a library are that has double sided storage so one side is books for the students and the other I keep things like resource books and coloured paper. All of our classrooms also come with a tv screen and Chromecast but I’m also lucky to be the only classroom with a projector screen as well which I prefer over the tv!

We have a collaborative learning furniture and I’m currently trialing letting students choose their seat each day. I have an area for students to hand in work or collect marked work as well as keep work that isn’t completed. Students use tote trays to keep their personal items in but their books go in subject boxes under the big whiteboard.

Why did you choose this particular layout?

In New Zealand we don’t get a choice in classroom furniture it just comes with the room and stays with the room. When I arrived at my school to set up my room I had a lot of random bits of furniture that didn’t seem to go together.

I struggled all of my first year to figure out a good layout and then finally over the summer break I found a layout I love. I don’t think I’ll ever change it now! It flows well, I can see all the student easily enough from all areas of the room, and they’re split so student have the option of working in a smaller or bigger group.

What is your favorite part of your design?

I love all the bright colours, the fabric on the walls, the displays and carpet spots. It makes the room feel bright and welcoming. I also really like my projector and all the storage!

Did anything surprise you about how your students reacted to your classroom (behavior, enjoyment, etc.)?

My students from last year have come to visit and they were really amazed when they saw the different layout. My students have told me how much they love our classroom and the bright colours which makes me so happy!

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?

Sometimes it can be really hard to work with what you’ve got! And moving furniture can take a lot of time and energy. It’s a good idea to draw up your classroom to scale with pieces of paper that are your movable furniture so you can play around with different layouts before you actually move your furniture! It’ll save you a lot of time and effort. Also, teaching Instagram pages have some really valuable tips and ideas!

Mikaelah Cash is a year 5 teacher in New Zealand. You can follow her on Instagram @teachinginchaosandharmony.

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