As we began the classroom design portion of Responsive Classroom training, our instructor asked us to think about a store where we like to shop and what we like about shopping there. It didn't take us long to start to make the connection between stores and classrooms. What a powerful analogy!
As you may have gathered from the name of my blog, I'm not a big shopper. I often feel confused, overwhelmed, inadequate, and irritated in stores. Here's my list.
Now, I it's not always a great idea to think of students as customers, but in this particular situation, it's helpful. The stores have a goal for customers that is somewhat similar to my goal for students. Stores want me to spend money. I'm more likely to spend money if I like the store and the products.
I want my students to learn, but more importantly, I want them to see the value of learning so they will continue learning throughout their lives. I want learning to be enjoyable and accessible to my students. If my classroom is a place where students like to be, they will be more likely to do things I want them to do.
When I'm shopping, I like to know where things are, how to get to them, and how to use them. I appreciate products that are labeled and organized. I like being able to find the information I need to make a decision. Store accomplish this with helpful signs and logical flow. I like to have choices that are within my price-range. My physical and emotional comfort is important.
How can I create this kind of environment in my classroom?
- organize and label classroom materials
- teach kids how to use materials
- make sure kids know what everything is for
- keep things orderly
- make sure lights, sounds, and smells are unobtrusive
- have comfortable places for kids to work
- have and teach systems for getting assistance
- have choices for kids at every academic level
- give students access to supplies (if materials are off-limits, keep them hidden or at least clearly marked as such)
- use nice materials (get rid of broken supplies)
- make the atmosphere comfortable for all students physically and emotionally
I know there are ways I can improve with this. One idea I got from another teacher at the class was to hang "curtains" on shelves that are off limits. She suggested just simple curtains, you don't want them to seem exciting or interesting because these places are off limits. She mentioned using a flat sheet and cutting the corners so it could be held on a suspension rod. I thought that sounded like a project within my capabilities. :) Another thing I'd like to do is make my classroom more physically comfortable. This is really hard to do on my extremely limited budget, so if you have some good ideas leave me a comment! One idea is just to give kids the option to work where they want to work. If they want to lay under a table to read, no problem for me! I'm heading to a rummage sale this afternoon, so maybe I'll find something amazing!
Does this way of thinking inspire you to do anything differently? Sharing in the comments below might give another teacher some inspiration they need, so be brave!
If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in some posts I wrote last year after my Responsive Classroom training. I wrote about morning meeting and teacher language.
If you found this post to be interesting or fun, I'd love for you to connect with me!
10102012 - Principal Shadowing 96 via photopin (license)