Sunday, January 15, 2012

Getting Started: Step Two

By now the walls of your classroom are begging to be hung with precious treasures and made beautiful. Ignore it. Wait it out. Thought out a wall display? Keep thinking!

This is my fourth year of teaching, and the fourth new classroom I have had to set up. If you do your wall displays now, chances are that your furniture will block some crucial part of one of the displays. If you arrange your furniture and put all your resources away now, you will probably end up moving furniture back out away from the wall in order to reach. Grrrr.

Now is the time to tentatively put out your furniture. Arrange the big stuff- library shelves, tote trays, your desk etc. You will be surprised at how long this process takes at first (don't worry, you get quicker at it every term). Don't bother putting stuff on shelves until you are happy with the layout and your wall display is hung. Keep thinking about how you want to decorate. Remember its nice to create a cosy Library corner nook, or a Math center, with space for several children to sit/ access equipment all at once.

Your classroom may be woefully under furnished. Talk to your tutor teacher and the caretaker/ property manager. There may be furniture in storage that you can access. Otherwise, it might be time to hit TradeMe/ op-shops or to advertise your needs on Facebook (you will be surprised how well Facebook works for accessing resources). Some city dumps have a dump-shop (sounds gross, but its an op-shop at the dump). This can be a great place to pick up cheap stuff too. The process of finding the right furniture can take quite a while sometimes.

If you do purchase furniture out of your own pocket, grab a permanent marker and write your name on the back. You own it. Make sure that no-one pinches it (seriously).

I personally love having a couch in the classroom. Its cosy and fun. You can bribe children into good behavior just by promising they can sit on it. I have often put children down for a lie down (which can turn into a nap) during the day if they are struggling. I have a little lie down before late night meetings. They are cheap to buy (I got mine for $40 from the Salvation Army Dominon Rd). If you are buying a second hand couch, I recommend that you slit the fabric underneath and spray tons of flyspray into the interior of the couch. You never know what lives in there!

Once you are happy with the layout of your furniture, leave it. Take a good look at your display areas again- do you need to re-think positioning/ size etc? Re-measure if necessary. Walk away from your classroom. Leave the furniture where it is overnight- your brain will continue to process and may come up with new/ better placements for things.

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