Most of us do not have control over which classroom we are assigned. However, we can all find ways to make the best use of the space we have. As discussed in my...
Better Ways to Use Classroom Space
Most of us do not have control over which classroom we are assigned. However, we can all find ways to make the best use of the space we have. As discussed in my last few blogs, teacher centered learning is becoming less fashionable while student cooperative learning is thriving. Additionally, teachers need to take into account various student learning styles and comfort levels to maximize classroom success. Here are some helpful hints towards these goals.
Flexible seating arrangements using flexible furniture come in handy. Sitting students in a U for class discussions has been found to be more effective than in rows. This also leads to better all around eye contact and a feeling of equality between students.
Seating students in groups of four can be helpful for group studies as well as easing teacher movement between desks. It is important to regularly change participants in order to increase classroom cooperation.
If space permits, providing various learning centers can greatly assist student needs. Some prefer bright light while others prefer it to be dimmer. Some prefer sitting on mats or floor pillows while others like a formal desk arrangement. Some need quiet while others like background music. Space allotment for these needs can show that the goal of your classroom is to get children learning as best as they can.
There should be opportunities for students to get up and move around in a reasonable way. Having books in one area, materials well organized in another, and study places in a third allow students to stretch their legs and adjust themselves to the next task at hand.
Active students do well with sitting on inflatable gym balls. If finances or space does not permit several of these, you can have just a few and rotate them between students. Additionally, a mini trampoline in a corner takes up little space and can work wonders for calming a nervous child down. Just send the child to jump for a few minutes until he feels ready to rejoin the class.
Of course, appealing bulletin boards showing goals, lesson plans, schedules, motivational quotes and student work enhance the atmosphere. However, if you are limited in your wall space, consider using windows as an additional “white board”. Dry erase markers can be used to write information on the glass and easily wipes off. At the end of the lesson or day, use glass cleaner to get a new finish.
Displaying student work is a great positive motivator. If wall space is limited and to add some variety, one can use the ceiling to display artwork or information. Crisscross yarn across the ceiling and use clothes pins to hang displays.
Probably the most important aspect of using classroom space successfully is not to be dogmatic. Be willing to get student feedback on how they feel about certain seating arrangements or learning corners. Self evaluate how a lesson went. Could it have been more successful if students sat differently?
What methods have you used successfully in your classroom to enhance the learning environment? We’d love to hear from you.