Summer is winding down, and every teacher has plans in the works as they look forward to the new school year. Whether you work in a public school, private school, or a child care facility, it’s time to make some plans to get your classrooms ready!
While we focus on the all-important interpersonal interactions that build relationships with our children, we need to think carefully and intentionally about how the classroom setup allows us the time to interact. We need to plan our days so that our kids have consistency, know the routine, and feel free to explore their curiosities.
Let’s take a look at a few things to consider. Remember, your classroom sends a message to children.
A child wants to know: “Do I belong here?” “Am I safe here?” “Is it okay to ask for help?” “Is this a place where my concerns and needs are noted and responded to?” “Will there be fun things to do?” “Will I make friends?”
A classroom that has inviting spaces, interesting and accessible materials, and provides TIME to explore sets the stage for all those wonderful teachable moments that make our day! A classroom that has a predictable flow, a warm and nurturing place where a child can choose how and where they play, or maybe has a place to find some quiet space does much to create opportunities to connect with their classmates and their teacher.
I've compiled a quick classroom setup checklist you can use while arranging your classroom this fall. If you need examples of classroom setups or materials you can use to promote different types of skills, the Teachstone Pinterest boards are a great resource to browse through.
If you need help planning your classroom setup, check out our webinar, Ready for School? Setting Up Your Classroom for Success. We discuss how the classroom materials teachers select, the setup of a classroom, and a daily classroom schedule work together to provide a foundation for great instruction that promotes social and academic outcomes for children.
The time has come for hard conversations.
That’s the feedback we have been receiving from educators across the country. There are plenty of tough conversations educators are trained, taught, or feel equipped to handle with children and families - gently bringing up a developmental concern, facilitating a disagreement between students, or explaining what happened with the classroom goldfish are all part of a day in the life. But in the last year, since the killing of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police, educators are increasingly asking for help in communicating more comfortably with young children about diversity and difference.
I was supposed to be an architect, instead I was a teacher of young children; it felt like my calling.
When I started my coursework, they tasked me with visiting multiple classrooms. It overwhelmed me when in some classrooms, children were crying, teachers were frustrated, and no one seemed to enjoy the day. I thought I had made a mistake. Thankfully, I had a professor who inspired me to continue. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the behaviors I observed in both children and teachers, the professor charged me to uncover the root of those behaviors.
And so, my journey to support social-emotional development began.
This past year of hybrid and virtual learning due to the pandemic highlighted the gaps in learning and the inequities that we already knew existed. It is apparent, now more than ever, that there needs to be a narrow focus on bridging the divides (e.g., digital) that exist and meeting students where they are in order to promote growth and put less emphasis on standardized testing. This would allow teachers to concentrate on curriculum with greater impact, differentiate their instruction, and utilize effective strategies that they know make a difference for children’s outcomes.