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Have you ever walked into a classroom, shop, or lab and just felt comfortable? Alternatively, have you walked into a similar space that had you on edge? If you can feel that, so can your students. Making your classroom more inviting will not only help your students be at ease and more productive, but it will do the same for you. Have you ever thought about how a student feels in your environment can play a role in them signing up again and helping increase enrollment? I admit that sometimes I was too overwhelmed to declutter and rearrange my classroom. I felt like it was a massive overhaul that would take the entire summer break to conquer. While some organization projects will probably take some time, here are some quick tips that you can implement today into your space to help you create and maintain a welcoming environment.
In this episode, Khristen discusses:
- Quickly Clear Off Horizontal Surfaces
- From the Student Perspective, Take a Look at Your Walls
- Implement Routines to Keep Your Classroom Free From Clutter
Quickly Clear Off Horizontal Surfaces
Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard a teacher complain about how the custodians are not cleaning their rooms? While not every custodial staff is created equal, if a classroom is cluttered, it is difficult and time-consuming to clean. So let’s get you started by clearing some of the clutter–starting with your horizontal surfaces.
I first learned about this concept from Allie Cassaza of the Purpose Show. Allie recommends that you take a laundry basket (in our case a milk crate or box) around and place things that don’t belong within. This doesn’t have to take very long and is a good exercise to do in 10 minutes. Set a timer and you will be amazed at what you can get done. After you have collected the items from your surfaces, return out-of-place items to their rightful places, throw away any trash, and sort/file any paperwork. Now, take a deep breath and marvel at how clean and decluttered your space is in such a short amount of time.
From the Student Perspective, Take a Look at Your Walls
We are all guilty of putting too much on the walls of our classrooms. We have rules and safety posters, key concepts we want our students to remember, inspirational quotes, and awards. Have you ever sat in your students’ seats and taken it all in? When you do this, I want you to first pay attention to what draws your eye–that will be what students are looking at while you’re trying to teach. If you cannot figure out what to look at, you have too much going on. Determine what are the most important things to keep on the walls and consider rotating them out. Think about what is relevant to the current concepts and standards you are teaching and only have those on display.
Next, I want you to look at how high things are hung. Typically, people hang things at eye-level when they are standing. When the same picture/poster/piece of art is viewed while seated, the viewer feels extremely short. Make any adjustments to lower what is on your walls.
Implement Routines to Keep Your Classroom Free From Clutter
It is one thing to declutter once, but quite another to maintain a clutter-free environment. To do this, you need to implement routines that will allow this process to occur regularly and seamlessly. Try adding the 10-minute clearing off horizontal surfaces to your after-school routine, or better yet, have a student in each class be in charge of that job during clean-up. Are you finding that after you clear the surfaces that you have items to put away, but they don’t have a place? If you’re accumulating a lot of similar items, you will need to designate a specific space for these items–which could be a larger project.
Remember that having a welcoming environment will not only help your students be at ease and more productive, and when your students feel comfortable, they will want to be there more which can ultimately result in them signing up for another one of your courses next semester or year, which will help you increase enrollment.