Contributor: Matthias Bawa
The environment we create for our students is equally as important as the content we teach and the learning strategies we use. This applies to all teachers of all age groups from preschool to graduate school. The environment includes the atmosphere, the traditions we set, the furniture arrangement, the centres or special areas within the room, and the decorations. All of these things add up to create either a positive or negative environment for students.
Here are some tips to help you in creating a welcoming environment.
Students feel welcomed and inspired to learn from the moment they walk through your door.
This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Primary and elementary teachers may want to decorate their door with a theme. It can be a simple welcome theme, your classroom theme, or a unit theme. Some examples might include:
- Welcome to a Very Special Place
- Blasting off to Learning
- Come Explore Learning in P2
- Soar the Heights with Mr. Miango
Middle school and high school teachers may not want to decorate their doors with a theme but can use other items to show students that their room is a place of caring and learning. Some examples:
- special artwork done by students
- artefacts that show your personality
- a welcome statement of some sort
- a class slogan
When setting up your room, first do a sketch to get an idea of how everything will look and to help you stay organised when moving everything around. Ask yourself:
- Should I use rows or groups of desks?
- Should I use tables?
- Should I have a reading corner?
- Should I have a special place for centres?
- Should I have a time-out area?
- How easily will I be able to move between students?
- Can we all get out of the classroom quickly in case of an emergency?
Classroom walls and bulletin boards are covered with thought-provoking and stimulating material.
- Motivational posters inspire students
- Primary classroom walls should be language-rich with words and pictures
- Some posters can be practical, such as listing classroom expectations or things to do when finished early
- Humorous posters tell students you know how to laugh
- A poster of good manners and/or life skills is good to have up for reference during a teachable moment
Do you have any other suggestions for creating a welcoming classroom environment? Add them to the comments below…