Each year as I set up my classroom, I wonder, "What does my room say about me?" Well, going by this photo, you might say, "That photo says Mindi is a mess!" Yes, at this point, my room is a royal mess. Boxes are stacked around the room, bulletin borders are only halfway attached to the walls, and the air is heavy with moisture since the dehumidifier hasn't run since June 7. Even my library, which looks decent in this photo is a wreck when viewed close-up. Between the baskets are books that were just shoved onto the shelves as kids brought them back to me even at the last minute.
This will only last a few days, however. Over the next week or so, I will consider the placement of every chair, every table, every lamp to make sure my classroom reflects those things that are important to me: spaces for kids to read, to write, to confer, and to discuss. If you look closely at the left side of the photo you can see my ugly-as-sin sofa and a bright red beanbag. These are part of my "living room" where the kids and I gather on almost a daily basis to consider the hard work of readers and writers. Students can read in the living room, sitting on the sofas or lounging in one of the several beanbags I've managed to procure over the past few years. On the other side of the room I have created a little nook just big enough for a small round table where I can do small group work with students. This will be the first year I have had such a space, and I am looking forward to using it to help move my learners forward. I found that neither the living room or the large-group learning space was conducive to the types of conversations and practice I was working on with my small groups.
The center of the room is the most readily visible and is the part of the space that I am perhaps most unhappy with at the moment. I have these ginormous blue tables that can only be configured a few ways. I really like the U-shape because it allows all of the kids to look at each other while at the same time providing unobscured views of the whiteboard and projector screen. I don't like that a person walking into my room or looking at photos of my space would think that the thing I value most is large group instruction. I'm still toying with different ways of arranging those doggone tables!
My favorite part of my classroom (besides my living room) is my classroom library. The book cases you see in the photo are most of my fiction books. My nonfiction books are still packed in boxes and will go on bookshelves in my small-group area. Several years ago, after visiting some of the K-5 classrooms in my district, I decided my classroom library needed an overhaul. I noticed that the classroom libraries in the younger grades were organized in baskets with titles facing out. I decided to see what would happen if I switched from a traditional library shelving system (spines out, alpha by author) to the sorted-by-genre, face out system. I was pleased to see usage of my library skyrocket! I label each book with the genre so reshelving is easy. I am going to have to spend a couple of hours weeding my library, though, because I have over 700 books, and I've bought more this summer (and I'm going to the Scholastic Warehouse Sale tomorrow!).
I am also a bit ashamed to admit I like my tile floor. Not because of its beauty (holy diamonds!), but rather because it is SO MUCH FUN to roll across it in my office chair! :-)
Anyway... that's my thinking about my classroom in a nutshell. Believe it or not, that photo was taken when I walked into my room this afternoon. It was an even bigger mess when I left!