Teacher Tuesday- Classroom Tour

I love seeing the internal workings of other teachers’ classrooms, so I thought as we head into these posts I’d share a quick classroom tour. I have to preface this by saying this is legitimately what my class looks like on a day-to-day basis; there was no mad clean up involved (clearly, look at my desk area). There are a few things that I feel really firmly about: a focus on student work, group seating, and having a space where I can inject my own personality.

Currently, my back bulletin boards are where I focus most of the attention. There are three main sections, all devoted to Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the Family. The first is a collection of brainstorming the students did as a class, focusing on the form and function of the text, where they did some analysis on post-its in groups. The middle poster section is an activity we do for everything we read- the students are given essay prompts in group (or actually, in this case, they were just given topics and had to create their own prompts) and then must create a detailed essay outline together, which they then write timed-writes for independently later. I have found that this has helped their writing a ton- the thesis statements are always strong, the textual support thoughtful, and the essays organized. The third bulletin board is usually some sort of extra-credit, creative sort of thing. For this book they had to find a descriptive passage from the text and illustrate it- some of their pictures are amazing.  The fourth section is just administrative- extra hand outs that are applicable for the whole year (boring).

Two counters, one for basic supplies and where they turn things in at the end of the period. I also keep a binder for the book we are currently reading full of handouts in case they’re absent or lose something. The other counter is mainly for copies I’ve run in advance and also for tubs for each period that house graded work that the students can get when they have a second (we do massive paper-passing out days every few weeks, too).

I have collected a few broken desks for a back work area, where I keep the papers I need to grade and an area of my totally awesome TA to work. I don't have her grade papers (totally against that), but she is amazing at getting things organized, alphabetizing, checking things in, etc... Right now I have a very manageable amount of work to grade, but there are times where you can barely see the desks.

Miscellaneous items include the table of contents for their current notebook, the agenda, seating charts, etc... A group of kids has suckered their way into a taped off area of the board to hang their own silly memes and whatnot, which is fun. I also have a "struggle bus" poster where kids can anonymously put up questions regarding whatever it is we are studying. 

My students sit at groups of six desks, although in some periods there are only four kids at each. When I first started doing high school I did rows, which I hated. Groups of four are tough (sometimes I have up to 36 kids in a class, which makes it really crowded), but I found a sweet spot with the room is shaped with six. I can move around really well, the kids can work in pairs or large groups, and we can also change configurations for Socratic Seminars or partner activities really easily. 

My corner is controlled chaos, which is fine with me, as long as the rest of the room is in order. I love collecting things to put on the walls- kids' thank you cards, pictures they give me, little trinkets they bring back from trips. There are so many stories on my walls and on my bookshelf that make me so happy. I love that someone can go in my room and know a bit about me and what kind of person I am without talking to me- I think that it makes the kids feel more comfortable, that I'm a teacher with a personality and interests. I remember in high school we had a teacher who had floor to ceiling posters and I adored his room.

So, that's it! I spend so much of my time in my classroom everyday- sometimes more waking hours than my actual house! It's important to me that it's how I like it and that it represents what we're learning. 

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