Up Your High School Classroom Paul Hewitt
Tables or desks? You'll likely inherit
one or the other unless you're in a specialty area which has labs
or chairs. The room size may dictate how the furniture fits, so
you will have to concentrate on the perimeter. Where are the chalk
(or dry erase) boards? Do you want the students facing them? My
classroom works best with the chalkboard to the side, since I seldom
use it except for posting the day's work and taping up examples
of student projects.
Where is the screen for projecting
overheads? This obviously needs to be in front of the students,
but I had mine mounted across a corner. Where do you want your desk?
If you're going to be moving about the room or standing at an overhead
projector, the teacher's desk doesn't have to be centered. Will
you have a computer in the room? Will this be a student work station
or for your use only? The spot for a computer may be dictated by
wall outlets and/or a network connection. How about storage or file
Most importantly, drop in and visit classrooms
of other teachers who seem to have their act together. Borrowing ideas
from veterans is the whole point. You don't have to invent everything
- Get the big furniture items placed
first, and then assess what you have left to work with for display
space. Actual bulletin board space may be limited, so you have
to be creative in finding ways to mount additional displays.
- Set aside one bulletin board for
important on-going communication with students. This board may
include your classroom rules, a calendar, an assignment log, the
daily bulletin, and other such items. It should be in a place
that is easy to access, preferably where students will see it
every time they enter the room.
- If you teach multiple preparations,
you may wish to set aside a space for each course. If you post
assignments in a certain spot every time, then students can be
trained to check there when they return from an absence.
- What are the rules in your building
about mounting things on the blank areas of the walls? If it's
ok, what mounting system works best for the wall type? I have
two cement block walls, and have found that the small squares
of velcro tape are about the only thing that will stick. (Then
I mount the other half of the velcro on the backs of posters.)
- Metal strips with an insert of
cork work for me on a rough wallboard. These need to be fastened
with screws, and give me an easy way to staple posters or student
grade sheets as they change weekly. (The maintenance department
will often install such things if you befriend them.)
- You may be starting out without
much of a collection of posters. Find a couple of prints that
inspire you and have them laminated. Make the room a reflection
of your personality. I know one math teacher who is a hockey fan.
She decorates her room with Detroit Redwings memorabilia.
- Early in the year, find an assignment
that allows some student artwork or showcases their creativity.
Then post the student work. They like to see their accomplishments
on the wall and it helps to set the standard for best practices
in student performance. This can be a terrific ice-breaker if
you can get it in place before a fall open house for parents.
- Try to set up a spot for students
to turn in work (an in-basket) for each course. This saves a lot
of paper sorting later as you grade and record their work. And
set up a system of slotted trays for work to be returned.