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Classroom Tip #2

You have picked a theme. Now it’s time to think about how this theme can manifest itself in your classroom.

I will be providing color palettes, and/or suggestions for free items, to gather for decoration that apply to many of the themes mentioned in my original post.

  • Animal (pick one animal, animals from your region, etc.)
  • Amusement Park
    • Ask families and co-workers to donate stuffed animals to display or use in the classroom (think carnival section of an amusement park)
  • Black & White
  • Comic books/Superheroes
    • Red/White/Blue
    • Go to the library and see if there are any leftover comic books to rip apart for accents on boards
    • Go to the local comic book store and see if they have free comics (mine did!) or old advertisements for classroom decor
  • Desserts
    • Pastels
    • Ask people to donate old cookbooks, or get some from the library, and have those pictures be your accents
      • Turn some cookbooks into a creative play center or a writing center
  • Disney
  • Gardens
  • Harry Potter
    • Must be house colors: blue (Ravenclaw), yellow (Hufflepuff), green (Slytherin), scarlet (Gryffindor)
    • I would ask around to see what items people have in their closets, there are plenty of Potterheads that bought a bit too much
  • Museum(s)
    • Contact a local museum and see if they have posters or brochures you can line your boards with
  • Ocean
  • Pixar
  • Social Media
  • Space
  • Sports
    • Color palette of your college/university
    • Color palette to match your favorite team
    • Color palette of a local college/university or professional team
    • Ask around for old jerseys to staple to the walls
  • Travel
    • Go to AAA and take every free map possible
    • Ask friends for maps when they travel: city maps, museum maps, national park maps, etc.
  • Zoo

Once a theme is picked, the fun begins. However, make sure that fun stays focused (keep to just a few colors) and make sure to spend carefully. A classroom can be beautiful without breaking the bank.

This added follow-up, as well as a few others, is meant to provide guidance and support so that all classrooms can be creative vibrant spaces for learning. Stay tuned for more!

Monthly Advice–September

Give yourself a goal.

What do you hope to accomplish this year? What do you want to learn this year?

We are wrapped up in student learning goals, their presence and the pressure around them, that sometimes we forget to think about our own learning. We forget to sit back and think deeply about our professional development. We also forget to take care of ourselves–personally and professionally.

I know we have observations, but they aren’t daily or weekly–usually.

So, I challenge you to give yourself a goal. Create a weekly or monthly goal for yourself. Create a singular goal for yourself. Do something that enhances your work. Do something that ensures you operate at an optimal level.

Say: This year I will . . .

  • make sure to complete all my lesson plans by Thursdays, so I can go home right away on Friday 😉
  • collaborate with another teacher on a reading unit
  • make sure that my student folders have two items per month
  • attend one professional development training, of my choosing, that is outside my comfort zone
  • schedule tests on different days, not just Fridays
  • park in the last spot to get more steps in
  • only allow one day a week to work and eat lunch, every other day I will just eat lunch
  • create a more diverse classroom library

The goal does not have to be lofty, or even completely teaching-centered.

What I desire is a goal that provides you the opportunity to enliven your personal and/or professional experience. Whatever that looks like for you, whatever you decide, I support you. So, go ahead, think of something–and go for it.

Beginning of the Year Checklist

Need a reminder for what to get ready?

Looking for added suggestions on how to be ready for the new year?

Well, here it is:

  • student files – a designated space, and folders ready with names on them
  • plenty of pencils, and sharpened
  • a few pencil sharpeners — one is never enough
  • an empty bulletin board (ready for students to fill)
  • new student folders (just have a few on-hand with copies of the items you handed out the first week, and maybe a few diagnostics)
  • snacks — everyone needs a snack drawer
  • medicine — have some ibuprofen for those headache days, and whatever you take when you feel that tickle in your throat (Cold-eeze, Emergen-C, etc.)
  • an extra pair of shoes — just in case the day’s shoe choice is a bust, or you decide to take a walk before/after school
  • pens — lots of them, preferably in a few colors
  • emergency folder — that first fire drill comes earlier and earlier each year, have evacuation materials ready
  • a schedule posted — you’ll be happy that first month for this, trust me
  • blank cards — to write a few nice notes or a few thank yous whenever inspired
  • a sub folder — for the last minute and unfortunate sick day (have a student roster and a few master copies of basic items on-hand for anyone to use)

It’s not a complete list, and it’s not a list focused on just you, just the learning, or just the classroom. It’s a list of those odds and ends that come up every year, the things I routinely remember later, or the things I realized I should probably commit to getting ready next time.

 

Classroom Tip #1

As we begin a brand new year, we need to consider a theme . . . for the classroom. Not in terms of a reading unit or any other learning unit, but a theme for decor.

I can write pages on how to decorate, how to decorate well, and how to decorate with meaning, but let’s first begin with a theme. The theme will drive everything else.

A classroom with a theme can provide a more thoughtful starting point to creating a space that is equal parts vibrancy, routine, familiarity, fun, and organization.

Before we can begin to discuss each of these elements, and those previously mentioned, first decide on a theme.

Suggestions/possibilities/ideas:

  • Animal (pick one animal, animals from your region, etc.)
  • Amusement Park
  • Black & White
  • Comic books/Superheroes
  • Desserts
  • Disney
  • Gardens
  • Harry Potter
  • Museum(s)
  • Ocean
  • Pixar
  • Social Media
  • Space
  • Sports
  • Travel
  • Zoo

These are just a few ideas–ideas I have in my mind for the future and ideas I have seen in other classrooms. I’m not leaving too much detail or direction now; rather, I want to spark interest and inspiration as classrooms begin to be decorated.

Decide on a theme. Think of its elements. Think of classroom-based translations for your theme. Write it all down, start designing and decorating, and then come back here–I have much more to say 😉