The classroom is the place where learning happens. That sounds rather basic, but sometimes we can forget how important the room is – the furnishing and equipment, the arrangement, the materials on the walls. As you begin to think about your new school year, spend some time thinking about the room.
A New Year in Preschool
Evaluate and Reflect
Think about the past year. Use these three questions for reflection:
- What worked well? We’re often ready to “fix” anything that’s not working. But we also need to think about what went right. For example, in my last classroom, we had “mailboxes,” designated spots for anything that needed to go home (artwork, notes to parents, announcements about school events). The boxes were alphabetized by first names, making it easier to quickly place items in them. That worked well and I will use that system again next year. What worked well for you this year? It could be a furniture placement or a procedure or the colorful bed sheets that you placed as a bulletin board background. List those successes; plan to use them again.
- What needs a change? You could probably quickly list some things that didn’t work. “Failures” tend to stick in our minds. Those things are how we grow as teachers. But think beyond just the “wrong” things. Maybe some things in your learning environment need to be refreshed; they work okay but need some new life. For example, I love to display children’s work. But in my next classroom, I’ll add some clothespins to the display wall and label them with the children’s names. Then we can easily change the display. I may even let children take responsibility for the display wall; they can change what’s displayed as they choose. What didn’t work in your room this past year? What was okay but could be changed to be even better? Make a list and note ideas for changes. If you’re not sure what to do, research it. Ask your fellow teachers. Check out the PLNs on Twitter. Read this blog for ideas.
- What new idea could you try? If you’re like me, you see ideas in all kinds of places. Whenever I go into another teacher’s room, I look around and usually see at least one thing I want to add to my classroom. I read blogs or magazines and want to incorporate those ideas in my teaching. Next year I’d really like to add a light box. Make a list of the things that you’d like to do in your classroom. (Or look at the list you may already have started.) Choose one idea for this year. Just one. That way you can focus on it and incorporate it in the best possible way. If you try to do too many new things, you may not be able to do any with great success.
Make a Plan
After you have reflected and listed your successes, changes, and new idea, you can begin to decide what to do. Make a simple plan for your classroom for the next year. Start with room arrangement. On a piece of paper, draw in the things you cannot change about your room (doors, windows, closets, fixed shelves, and so forth). Think about each piece of furniture or equipment you have. Where’s the best place for it? Place shelves and other furniture to create smaller play areas. Use your reflections to guide you. After all the large pieces are in place, note any other things you need to do to set up the space. Make a list of what you need to buy or refurbish. Create a simple checklist of what to do.
Don’t try to make your plan in one sitting. Work on it over several days. When it’s complete, set it aside for a week. Then look at it again with fresh eyes. Does anything need to adjust? Refine your plan over the next few weeks. Then you will be ready to set up your space for the new year.
Tell us about your reflections. What has worked well for you this year? What would you like to change?