Creating a Functional Classroom Theme

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We have all been there… browsing pinterest to get inspiration to make that BEAUTIFUL classroom theme. We spend so many hours at school so why not be in an environment that nurtures your soul, inspires your students and brings function and routine to your day. Look no further, I will attempt to answer this question in this blog post.

The first thing we need to think about is WHAT we are teaching, HOW and WHY. So start with your teacher binder and get that in order first. Some tabs I like to include are Lesson Plans, Grade Book, Student Data, Student Info, School Info, Daily Schedule, Guided Reading, Field Trip Info, etc. Figure out how your day is structured, curriculum standards and social focus (growth mindset, habits, etc.) The next step is taking stock of your classroom, what size is it, how many students, and what items you already have.

 

First, create your seating chart. This should be flexible because as you get to know your students you will move them. Have some flexible seating options in your classroom. Decide how you will work through your schedule. I suggest starting the day with a group morning meeting.

That requires you to think of an area perfect for large group. It builds community and is a great way to start the day. Decide what you will do. I suggest that kids sit in assigned spots (you can mark these off with cute duct tape). Then, a greeting, sharing time, calendar math and morning message and finally a group activity. The order of these can change but this is the format for most days. To create this area you will need to find a large rug, calendar, easel, etc.

The next thing I think that is important is the daily flow, decide how you will run your day, how and where your students will be working. Then create your schedule. I know some teachers like to display each and every transition, I like to keep the visual schedule broad simple and broad. So if it says Literacy, this can mean guided reading groups and literacy stations. I don’t break it down further than that so that students don’t compartmentalize their learning and it feels holistic. You can read more about my schedule here.

Once our schedule is set up, you know you will need to figure out how you will teach literacy, guided reading groups, writers workshop, math workshop, etc. You will think about these after settling your schedule and space.

To promote literacy, a class library is a great option. The student’s borrow from the school library to keep it simple. But the class library serves and important role. Students can choose what they will read during “read to self” or “read to a friend”, it also teaches them the responsibility of how to handle books and care for them.

The next step is deciding how you will run your centers and other hands-on work. I like to have designated areas but if that isn’t an option… (believe me, I have taught in teeny tiny classrooms before) — you can have “take it to your seat” center options. These are just things you need to think about and plan for.

The next biggie is organizing your room so that the students know what to do, when to do it and how. This starts from day one. Have a place where they will unpack their things, where they will hand in their folders/parent communication, where supplies are and how to request them, etc. It is important for you to do a mock trial run and go through your day as a 5-year-old who is brand new to school and doesn’t understand the procedures and rules – YET! That is the BEST piece of advice I can give – mock trial run of your school day!

Anticipating everything a child would want or need is really the most important thing for successful classroom management. That comes even before there is LEARNING! Remember, stress is the number one worst thing you want while teaching. Kids can feel it and when they feel it – trust me, there is no learning happening. Spend your time, going through the day and seeing what is missing, questions and concerns that may arise and be ready for them.

Here are some things you will want to think about:
Beginning the day
Entering and exiting the classroom
Labeling papers
Collection and distribution of papers
Signaling for quiet and attention
Appropriate times for moving around the room
Working in centers
Working with a small group / partners
Emergency drills and procedures
Going to the restroom (… and accidents!)
Moving throughout the school
Late arrival
Grading and homework policies (I can chart…)
Asking questions
Finishing an assignment early
Dismissal

The next important thing is figuring out what you will do to keep kids on track. I like to use something called Sprinkle Points. This is a great classroom management strategy and is a lot of fun for kids to get sprinkles on the classroom cupcake. Once you reach a certain number of sprinkles, you decide, your class can get a prize such as a pajama day or something along those lines.

These are just some of my ideas that I wanted to share with you.

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