If students saw the classroom design before the first day of school, what kind of learning experiences would they expect?
I hope their answer would be "MAGICAL". Our room is Hogwarts-themed and the school year is Harry Potter inspired. There are theme connections all around the room. Keys hang from the ceiling and a chess board is set off to the side. Wands and snakes and spiders litter the walls. The classroom door, covered in bricks, has been transformed into Platform 9 3/4. Owls flutter here and there. Quidditch goggles, brooms, robes and even Moaning Myrtle's toilet seat help to set a magical stage.
The classroom library is smack dab in the middle of the room. It is housed in six bookcases and includes picture books, chapter books, non-fiction, poetry, traditional literature, etc. There are lots of matching pairs of books that students can read with a buddy. There are cozy, oversized, chairs for students to curl up in.
The classroom desks are are pushed together to form four groups of five or six desks. There is a table where small groups can meet. There are larger meeting spots in front of the classroom SmartBoard, white board, and another larger meeting spot where we'll share #classroombookaday picture books.
Every decision around classroom design was intentional. The classroom is a place where fun will happen. Most importantly, it'll be a place where community is valued. We'll use those meeting spaces to build and nurture our community. We need spaces where kids can talk to one another and where they can listen to one another. We need work spaces where students can collaborate and we need quiet spaces too.
Our classroom library is central to our classroom. Reading will be an important part of our classroom culture. We'll share books and our love of reading throughout the year. Literature will help my students to develop their social skills and will help them to grow more empathetic.
Our classroom is inviting. It is warm. It is fun. It is a place where I hope every student will find that they belong.
If students could sneek a peek I suspect they would expect their learning experiences to focus on the students BEFORE the content. I suspect that they would anticipate a reading-rich experience. I know they'd sense that community is important and they might be able to predict that they'll be lots of opportunities to collaborate. They might even guess that projects will be key to their learning. The math games and manipulatives out in plain sight will send a clear signal that math will be fun and that the students will spend a fair amount of time modeling and making sense of math.
If my students could see the classroom design before the first day of school I certainly hope they'd be eager to come and to learn.