Good classroom design

The last two days we have been thinking about redesigning our classrooms. As a small school with small facilities, we are a bit limited in what we can do. Last year, when I came into the school, I just took the room over as it was. At that time, I had many other things to worry about.

The rooms are all rectangular and offer little space. When I came in, every wall was covered with display boards, and a whiteboard was sqaushed in as well. It was very busy, and I tried to use the board so that it looked less cramped. The teachers desk was massive, which I didn’t realise until I tried to take it out of the room and it wouldn’t even fit through the door.

Now, we have two weeks (well, one left to go now) before us teachers break up for the summer too. We decided it was time to paint the classrooms. As the head and owner of the school had left by the time we had made the decision, I called her for permission. With the go-ahead at hand, we bought some paint, and yesterday, in a team of three, collaborated on painting our rooms. The white on the walls makes it seem so much better already!

I also moved the whiteboard from its prominent, center-stage position and created room for a book corner. 2 of my 6 displays have been removed. The walls now look nice enough to leave some in-between space. The clock has been lowered, the teacher’s desk removed and replaced with a smaller desk for some admin work. I got two more shelves and kicked out my mobile student tray wagon.

Now it is time to find a good design for the rest of the room. My class consists of nine students in Year 4, and 3 students in Year 3. I will also team teach this year, with me being the main class teacher for Year 4, and the other teacher being the Year 2/3 teacher. This came to be as the Y2/3 class all of a sudden shrank to 3 or possibly 4 students.
My school is a PYP school (candidate) and our learning is inquire-based, active learning. I would like to achieve that my students, who have obviously been used to sitting at tables before i met them, walk around more, get engaged more, and sit where they want to sit for a situation that suits them.

How do you design your classroom?


Feedback on my action inquiry

This feedback is not directly related to my AI, but more related to the reports that went out and to what the parents saw during the student-led conferences.

All the parents in the class were informed about the research I was and still am undertaking. They were surprised at how confidently the children evaluated their work and how good they were at identifying new targets and improvements. I have to say, so was I.

Once a year, usually after Easter, my school has the student-led conferences. The children talk about the work they did during the school year, and try to identify new learning goals together with their parents. Portfolios support the children’s reflection, and generally this is all about celebrating the learning that occured.

This year, my class did exceptionally well in this. I am not sure how much it is related to the self-assessment skills we have been developing but it was evident that children were very reflective, open and honest, not afraid to say where they could have done better and they were able to say WHY they thought the work was good.

In the next year, assessment will continue to be a focus. While using marking ladders, think!pair!share! and other similar formative assessment strategies worked incredibly well in Language, I found them harder to apply in Mathematics. So, for the upcoming school year, Maths and all other subjects will remain a focus, and the AI will continue!

Last days of school

The last two weeks of school are approaching and there are still a few things left to do. There is the annual school performance this Friday, a Sports Day and the End-of-the-Year assembly.

As coordinator these two weeks will be busy for me on a different level as well. I need to make sure that the following two weeks are planned rigourously, as teachers have time to reflect on the past school year and plan for the future. The trouble is: when planning these two weeks initially, all teachers had agreed to stay. This is not the case anymore. In addition, we are expanding, which means another new member of staff. So I need to be flexible in my planning for this time. New teachers will be able to come out for short periods of time, however, all at different times of course.

If this wasn’t enough, there is the urgent need to review our programme of inquiry and update it, preferbly before the end of the school year even.

As a teacher, I hope to make these last two weeks very interesting for the children. Our current inquiry unit is about the Middle Ages, which will shape most of our activities in the upcoming eight school days. Today and Tuesday the school is closed, and next Monday I am fortunate enough to join the upper classes on their horse trekking trip up the mountains in Massa.

All good fun in the end. I hope that I will be able to keep this updated more now.