Time to go back to school? Bear with us. All of the following are relevant…
We came across the poem ‘Why school environments matter’ in this article by The Centre For School Design. It was originally commissioned as part of their School Environments Charter, but it gave us food for thought with regard to our own classrooms. Classrooms shouldn’t just be work places — they should provide environments that learners feel are theirs.
The average pupils spends 25% of their school day in corridors and circulation spaces.”
‘From Consultation to Design’ Design for Learning, 2009.
95.8% of teachers surveyed felt that school environments have a big impact on pupil behaviour.”
‘School Environments Survey’ by the ATL, Teacher Support Network and BCSE, 2010
In other words, what we do with our classrooms, circulation spaces and corridors matters.
Clearly pupils care about their learning environment and it’s important that you consider how to get the best from not only your classroom, but the areas outside it too. A recent website we saw showed how Dr Seuss can be used as the basis for your classroom decoration. There are some lessons to take…
1) Pick a theme and go to town on it (this works particularly well with lower KS2 and KS1 classes). The Dr Seuss idea is perfect as it provides weird and wonderful characters coupled with really positive messages and an encouragement to read.
2) Use motivational quotes imaginatively (we liked the Dr Seuss quote on the thinking board especially).
3) Give your class ownership of their learning space. Show them it’s theirs. We are great believers in displaying photos of a class and, with a digital camera in most classrooms, there’s now no excuse! Somehow a collection of photographs of your motley crew seems to instill a team mentality — “we’re all in this together and here are our mugshots”.
4) Be clear about what your reward system is and DISPLAY IT. A motivational idea to accompany any ‘Cat in the Hat’ theme is the use of “The Hat” as a class reward. Every day, draw a hat on your board and write pupils’ names in it when they deserve rewarding. At the end of the day, randomly pick a name from the hat. Have a “hat box” from which the lucky winner can choose a prize. Filling the box needn’t be costly as most supermarkets have packs of mini ballpoint pens, rubbers or highlighters for a pound.
…enjoy your first few days back after the break and use them to make your classroom a learning “home” for pupils in the coming year. Remember, the most important resource in establishing a great learning environment is not technology, displays or classroom layout, though — it’s YOU. Sticking with the cartoon theme, we’ll leave you with an example from The Simpsons…
In the episode ‘Satudays of Thunder’, Homer takes a National Fatherhood Institute quiz. To be a good father, he needs to name one of his son’s friends, name his son’s hero, name another dad he talked to about parenting and name his son’s hobbies. He scores zero. It might sound trite, but probably the most important thing you can do in getting the new term off to a great start isn’t backing wallboards or downloading posters… It’s just getting to know the people you’ll be working with this year. It’s their brains you are going to be developing and their lives you will be a part of. Get to know what makes them tick. Tailor the National Fatherhood Institute quiz to your class and see how you do! If you can score 4/4 for each pupil, you’re off to a good start.
NB. Our popular new resource includes “how-to” instructions for several internet tools that would be perfect for getting to know your class. Ideas included!
Spread the word: Share